Headaches can be a huge problem, especially when they develop into full-blown migraines. While there are certainly plenty of over-the-counter remedies, the best way to treat a headache is to prevent it in the first place. Fortunately, learning how to prevent headaches is often as easy as making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Check Your Medicine Cabinet
Although the supplements you take and the medicines your doctor prescribes to you are supposed to help rather than hurt, there are some that are known for causing headaches.
- Hormones, including birth control pills, anabolic steroids, and treatments for low testosterone, have all been blamed for headaches.
- ED medications like Viagra and Cialis can cause migraines in some patients.
- Heart and blood pressure medications can cause headaches, though some patients say the frequency and severity diminishes over time.
Some medicines also cause what are known as “rebound headaches”, which occur due to the overuse of pain medications. Although many people believe that only narcotic drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone cause rebound headaches, that’s not at all the case. Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen may also be to blame. When learning how to stop headaches, you should first check your medicine cabinet. If you take any of the aforementioned drugs regularly, discuss your symptoms with your physician.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
People who suffer from chronic headaches may be able to reduce the frequency of those headaches by changing their diets. You may already know that chocolate and alcohol are some of the most common triggers, but there are some foods and food products that may surprise you.
- MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is one of the biggest headache triggers of them all. It’s an additive that is not only salty, but also creates a meaty, savory flavor. It’s popular in Asian cuisine, but it’s also found in a variety of processed foods.
- Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in diet sodas and other sugar-free goodies. It’s especially popular among diabetics and those who want to shed pounds by cutting sugar, but it’s also a known migraine trigger.
- Aged cheese contains an enzyme called tyramine that forms as the proteins in the cheese break down. Some people are especially sensitive; others are not sensitive at all. Some of the worst culprits include parmesan, gouda, Swiss, cheddar, and blue cheeses.
Although caffeine is indeed a headache trigger, there is also evidence to suggest that it can help alleviate headaches when it is consumed in moderate amounts alongside over-the-counter pain relievers. It dilates the blood vessels and allows the body to absorb more of the painkiller, thus alleviating headaches more quickly.
Improve Your Environment
Another step you should take when figuring out how to stop headaches before they start involves improving your overall environment. There are several things you can do that will lessen the frequency and severity of your headaches.
- Bright lights may not bother your eyes at first, but the longer you’re exposed to them, the higher your chances of developing a headache. This is especially true if you work in an area with very bright lights, or if your job involves looking at a computer screen. Dim the lights, where possible, and don’t use a computer in a dark room.
- Ergonomics also play a role in the frequency of headaches. If you sit at a desk during the day to work or play, it’s important to make sure that everything is placed properly – including your chair, your keyboard, your mouse, and even your monitor – to prevent straining.
- Noise is one of the most common headache triggers. Unfortunately, though, it can’t always be avoided. The best solution here is to buy some comfortable foam ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to use when you’re faced with especially loud conditions.
Along these same lines, there are plenty of holistic practitioners who claim that adding aromatherapy to your environment could also ward off headaches. Good choices include lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, spearmint, and even peppermint.
Focus on Your Overall Wellbeing
Sometimes, in your quest to learn how to stop headaches before they start, you’ll need to take some time to focus on yourself and your overall wellbeing.
- Stress is probably the number one headache trigger of them all. Although the amount of stress you must deal with daily isn’t always within your control, the way you choose to handle that stress certainly is. Consider things like yoga or meditation to clear your mind during stressful events.
- Lack of sleep is another major cause of headaches, and it’s one that you can remedy. Follow the basic tips for getting a good night’s rest: go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, avoid eating for a few hours before bedtime, remember that the bedroom is a place for sleeping and sex – never work or watch TV in bed, engage in relaxing activities prior to bedtime, and try some relaxing chamomile tea about an hour before you turn in.
- Underlying medical conditions are sometimes responsible for chronic headaches and migraines, too. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a physical exam, or if you haven’t discussed your headaches with your doctor, there’s no time like the present. Often, some simple lab tests and a physical can reveal the source of your headaches, which is the first step in the development of an effective treatment plan.
Headaches happen to just about everyone from time to time. Sometimes they’re caused by stress; other times, your body may be telling you that it needs more fluids. If you want to learn how to stop headaches before they even start, try making the lifestyle changes above to reduce their frequency and severity.