Updated: Jun 8
Headaches are miserable, pestering, and difficult to deal with. Headaches are one of the most common ailments to affect adults, especially women. In fact, more than 80 percent of all adults get at least one headache each year. It can affect anyone at any time, which means you should always be prepared.
But you don't have to resign yourself to a life of pain and suffering caused by headaches. While the type and how often you deal with one will likely vary, there are effective treatments for this problem available at our Manhattan pain management center that you can use to deal with them more effectively.
Causes of Headaches
Headaches are more than just a nuisance. They can cause pain that lasts for days and interfere with your daily responsibilities. Headaches can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and difficulty concentrating.
It's estimated that millions of people suffer from headaches, which can be caused by a wide range of factors, such as:
• Poor posture
• Poor sleeping habits
• Anxiety or depression
• Poor diet and dehydration
• Medication side effects (including over-the-counter pain relievers)
• Certain foods and drinks (such as caffeine, nitrates, alcohol, processed meats, and dairy products)
Headaches can make it hard to stay focused on work, play, or even the simplest tasks. And they can make you feel like you're in the throes of a migraine — even if you don't have a headache. But if they're becoming a regular problem or causing you to miss out on life, it's time to stop the cycle.
Recognize the Patterns
The first step in dealing with headaches is recognizing what triggers them. This may include certain foods or drinks, stress levels, or other factors that affect your body's chemistry. The next time you get a headache, write down what happened before it started so that you'll know what triggered it in the future. You may also want to keep a diary of when you get headaches so that if there is any pattern over time, it will become apparent.
It's important to know what your triggers are so that you can avoid them. For example, if bright lights bother you or loud noises set off your migraines, it's important to keep those triggers out of your environment. You can also try wearing sunglasses and earplugs at night when you go to bed or during the day when you work outside or are in public spaces where there are lots of people around.
Some type of physical or emotional stress usually causes them. But often, headaches have no identifiable cause. That's why it's important to seek medical treatment from a pain specialist.
Adjust or Change Your Habits
Headaches can get in the way of your life, whether they're frequent or chronic. They can affect your social and work life, which can make you feel isolated and frustrated. If you're getting headaches frequently — more than once a week — or if your symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you may have chronic migraine or tension-type headaches.
If you're prone to headaches, consider changing your lifestyle and work habits. For example, if you're always on the computer, consider switching to a larger monitor or using an external keyboard and mouse so that you're taking fewer breaks to look down at your hands. If you tend to get headaches after eating, try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. You may also want to avoid foods that trigger allergy symptoms or other allergic reactions in your body.
Keep a Headache Diary
Keep track of the triggers that cause your headaches, such as too much caffeine or alcohol consumption, stress, or lack of sleep. Write down what happened before you had your headache so you can identify patterns that trigger your pain. This information may help your doctor determine what's causing your headaches and how to treat them.
Keeping a headache diary can help you and your healthcare provider figure out how to prevent or treat your headaches and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
When you're stressed out or anxious, your body releases hormones called catecholamines that can trigger a headache. Learning how to relax is one way to reduce these stress hormones so they don't get released in the first place. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery can help calm down your nervous system so it doesn't send out as many pain signals.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise can have huge benefits for the mind and body, so try moving more throughout the day. Exercise is an important part of any treatment plan for many health conditions, including headaches. Not only does it provide a distraction from the pain, but it also releases endorphins into the bloodstream that help relieve tension and stress — two major causes of headaches.
In addition, exercise helps improves blood flow in the body's arteries and veins — two things that help prevent headaches. It can also improve sleep quality and overall health. If you're dealing with chronic headaches, ask a health professional whether an exercise program is right for you.
Work with a Pain Specialist
If you experience headaches often, it's important to get relief as soon as possible. The longer your headache lasts, the more likely it will interfere with your ability to work and live normally.
If your headaches are so severe that they interfere with your ability to work or other activities of daily living, then they may be disabling and require treatment. It's best to see a pain doctor who will work with you to find the proper treatment for your specific type of headache.
The good news is that there are many treatment options available today that can help reduce or even prevent headaches. Consider complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and massage therapy. These non-invasive approaches may be helpful in managing headaches and reducing their severity. The key is finding the right one for you — and sticking with it.
Find the Right Treatment
It's important to make sure that you are able to manage your condition effectively if you suffer from chronic headaches. It can be difficult to find all of your triggers and keep track of everything, so it's understandable if this process takes some time.
Everyone is different, so finding what works best for you is important. If your headaches seem more intense than they used to be, or if you're having trouble finding something that helps, you should speak with a Manhattan pain management specialist as soon as possible to find out what your treatment options are. Don't let the headaches take over your life; learn to control them and live a normal life you enjoy.