What Can You Do?

The ACA suggests the following:

• If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.

• Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.

• Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.

• Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.

In addition, the ACA and its Council on Nutrition suggest you avoid the following food “triggers”:

• Avoid caffeine. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of the stimulant.

• Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise, or abrupt movements.

• Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.

• Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.

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