Lifestyle Habits That Trigger Chronic Headaches
Headaches are a common yet most ignored medical condition affecting adults. More than half of adults experience an episode yearly, and 90% have experienced it more than once in their lifetime. For some people, headaches, especially migraines and tension types, occur frequently, are intensive, and sometimes debilitating.
Depending on the type, headaches require different treatment options. However, regardless of the type and intensity, you shouldn’t be among the group that rests or self-medicates with aspirin for relief. You should seek medical attention from the nearest health facility. If you are in Texas, visit Complete Care for a thorough evaluation. While headaches result from several causes, lifestyle habits are a major contributor to chronic headaches. The following lifestyle habits might be the reason behind your unending headaches:
1. Not drinking enough water
Not drinking enough water, especially during hot months, might be the reason behind your chronic headache. Sufficient fluids and electrolytes are crucial for normal body functioning. However, the body loses a lot of water daily through sweating, urinating, and other normal activities. While you can make up for the lost fluids and electrolytes when you eat or drink fluids, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and excessive sweating can affect this balance, causing dehydration headaches.
Dehydration causes temporary shrinkage or contraction of the brain due to fluid loss. Dehydration headaches present as mild or severe migraines in the front, back, side, or all parts of the brain. Other symptoms that accompany dehydration headache include:
- Extreme thirst
- Reduced urination
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced skin elasticity
- Dark colored urine
Fortunately, treating dehydration headaches is very simple. You should simply increase your fluid intake, eat fluid-rich fruits, hydrate more when exercising or during hot weather, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Life is currently very stressful, especially for adults with responsibilities. Many people face a lot of stressors as they go about their daily activities. Stress can also occur due to psychological pressure or physical issues, such as neck strain from long hours of sitting. While stress is tolerable, extensive periods of stress negatively affect your health.
Stress is a cause and an enabler of various types of headaches. Be it an over-packed schedule, piling bills, a demanding job, or personal issues, stress is the reason behind common types of headaches. Common symptoms of stress headaches include:
- Normally mild or moderately painful
- Can occur episodically, whether they’re short-lasting or chronic
- Stress headache feels like a tight band around the neck
- The scalp, shoulders, and neck feel sore and tender
- Unlike migraines, stress headache is aggravated by sound, physical activity, or light
Controlling your stress levels is the key to avoiding stress headaches. Since avoiding stressors might be impossible, exercise, mindfulness, talking to someone, eating healthy, and taking a nap can reduce stress levels and, ultimately, stress headaches.
3. Lack of sleep
Poor sleeping habits or interrupted sleep is another lifestyle factor that can trigger chronic headaches, especially in the morning. Failing to reach the REM stage when sleeping is associated with painful headaches. REM sleep often starts 90 minutes after you fall asleep. This stage is associated with increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing pattern.
Sleep deprivation triggers tension headaches and migraine headaches, which cause further sleep disturbance. Lack of proper sleep also reduces the pain threshold, which is the body’s ability to withstand pain. Research studies found that individuals with sleeping problems or insomniacs have low pain thresholds.
4. Poor diet
Migraines and tension headaches, which are the two common types of headaches, might also result from poor eating habits. Tension headaches present as head pressure, tight band on the head, or dull ache. Your eating habits determine your sugar levels. For instance, cutting calorie intake, especially for those trying to lose weight, leads to a drop in blood sugar levels.
A drop in sugar levels creates muscle tension, causing headaches.
On the other hand, migraines affect one part of the brain, are severe, and feel like a pulsating sensation. Migraines also present with nausea, vomiting, and sound or light sensitivity. Most people with migraines experience headaches after eating certain foods. However, most of them don’t know the specific food items. If you’ve been battling migraines, keeping a diary of your eating and migraine patterns can help you identify the specific meal. Food items known to cause migraines include:
- Nuts and butternuts
- Tomatoes and citrus fruits
- Cheese or cultured dairy products
Eating on a schedule, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying hydrated can help reduce chronic headaches.
Most people treat headaches as minor problems that have no significant medical reason. However, they might be indicative of a serious health problem. Posture, alcohol, and tobacco consumption are other lifestyle factors that precipitate chronic headaches.