Headaches, as we all know, have a tendency to spoil even the best of days. And it seems like just about anything (like somebody’s cologne that’s just a bit too strong or your second bottle of beer) can cause that annoying bass system in your brain to start pounding its way painfully into your skull.
If you’re starting to think that you may have specific triggers for your headache, you are right. According to Mark W. Green M.D., director of headache and pain medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, there are probably 1,000 causes of headaches, which is why it’s a bit hard to identify exactly what caused it in the first place.
Below, we’ve lined up 5 of the most surprising reasons why your head hurts and how you can get rid of the pain. Please note that if your headache won’t stop or gets worse overtime or is accompanied by vomiting or numbness on the side of the body, make sure that you see your doctor immediately.
5) You probably didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and it’s already 2 past noon.
Not eating your regular meals is actually a recipe for disaster. According to Carolyn Bernstein, M.D., a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, skipping regular meals and having fluctuating blood sugar causes the brain to get irritated, which in turn can trigger migraines.
What you should do: Small meals every few hours throughout the day is your best bet. Dr. Bernstein says that it’s also important to drink plenty of water as proper hydration helps in keeping your head cool, calm and collected.
4) You drink coffee. A lot.
If you drink your coffee at 7am every morning before heading off to work but sleep in on the weekends, you might notice a headache coming on every time you go without your espresso. “That’s a caffeine withdrawal headache.” says Emad Estemalik, M.D., a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic. He adds that this the reason why doctors usually recommend that their headache patients keep up their habit of coffee drinking.
What you should do: According to Dr. Estemalik, “100 to 200mg of caffeine or one to two cups of coffee a day could actually protect you from headaches.”
3) You’re stressed.
When you’re feeling stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure rise, and so does the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. All this hyperactivity in your system will cause your muscles to tense, which can result to a headache, says Dr. Estemalik.
What you should do: Whenever you feel some tension, try applying some ice pack on your head while massaging your neck. Doing so will soothe your muscles and also help relieve your headache.
2) Your diet is packed with triggers.
Are you getting tired of your migraines? Then maybe it’s time you stop going to your favorite Chinese restaurant. Dr. Estemalik says that migraine sufferers are advised to stay away from food that’s packed with additives like MSG (see Chinese food), nitrites and nitrates (compounds usually added to processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages and hot dogs). He also adds that tyramine (usually used in aged cheeses and red wine) can also cause migraines.
What you should do: Stay away from Chinese food, processed meats, aged cheeses and red wine.
1) You’re popping Advil like a 5-year old with a bag of M&M’s.
We’re all tempted to reach for a bottle of our trusty Advil whenever we feel some stress building. Although you’re not entirely wrong to do so (as OTC meds like Advil and Tylenol are anti-inflammatory medications that helps relieve pain), relying too much on them (like more than twice a week), can cause rebound headaches, which is one of the most common causes of recurrent headaches.
What to you should do: Dr. Estemalik says that there’s nothing wrong with popping meds like Advil, Excederin or Tylenol, just as long as you don’t take them more than twice a week. He adds that a better thing to do would be to identify the trigger that caused the headache and counteracting that trigger.