Healthy Living Tips: Week 7 – Identifying causes of headaches

More than 10 million people in the UK get headaches, making them one of the most common health complaints. Headaches involve mild to severe pain in one or more parts of the head as well as the back of the neck. While painful and annoying, the majority of headaches do not indicate a serious disorder.

There are two major types of headaches: Tension headaches and migraine headaches. The former type results from contraction of head and neck muscles. It is the most common form of headache and accounts for 70% of headaches. The latter occurs when blood vessels of the head and neck constrict, resulting in a decrease in blood flow to the vessels.

Although there are a few causes of headaches one may expect such as; smoking, stress, fatigue, dehydration and alcohol to name a few, there are some surprising causes including:

  • Strong scents – including paint, dust, Perfumes and even certain types of flowers.
  • Hair Accessories – A tight pony tail, headbands, tight braids or a tight fitting hat may strain your scalp. Literally try letting your hair down to get relief.
  • Poor posture – slouching at your desk, a chair with no lower back support, cradling your phone between your ear and your shoulder all build pressure in your head and neck muscles. Consult your doctor for exercises to help with posture.

Other causes of headaches include cheese, processed meats, warm weather and skipping meals.

Make sure you drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Also try making a log of the foods you eat, the weather, stressful events etc. to identify triggers for headaches. This will enable to prevent them. If a headache lasts more than a couple days or is unusually painful then consult a doctor.

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