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Headaches: 5 Ways to Fight Back

February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 167

Headaches come in over 200 different varieties, according to the International Headache Society, who also classifies them into the three broad categories of primary, secondary, and other. Most headaches fall into the first category, and we know them as tension, migraine, rebound, cluster, and hangover headaches, with tension headaches, at 75%, accounting for the majority.

If you are like most people, you experience headaches infrequently and probably treat them with an over-the-counter medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. You take a pill and, if possible, lie down for awhile.

However, some people experience headaches everyday or at least several times a week. If this describes you, there are several things you can do to fight back against headache pain. Besides seeing your doctor, you can take action with the following plan:

1. Keep a Diary - Write down all the details you can about your headaches, including time of occurrence, what you were doing, severity and locality of the pain, duration, and what you did for relief. Do this over a period of time, and it can help to identify the various triggers, and even combinations of triggers, that can cause headaches. The "usual suspects" include physical and emotional stress, certain foods, certain medications, hormonal changes (in women), and environmental stress like working conditions, weather changes, bright lights, paint thinner, and perfume.

2. Control Stress - This is one area of our lives that many of us talk about but few do anything about. One way to get a handle on it is to set aside at least two times during the course of a day where we can take a "time out" and relax for awhile, even if we only close our eyes and deep breathe for a few minutes. The main thing is to recognize the stress in our everyday lives--and this is where the diary can help--and take actions to reduce or eliminate it.

3. Pay Attention to Your Diet - Common sense (and your mother) tells you that proper nutrition is very important to feeling and looking good. A balanced diet will keep your blood sugar and magnesium levels where they should be and help avoid headaches. Your headache diary may indicate certain headache-triggering foods to stay away from, like red wine and foods that contain sodium nitrite (processed meats) as well as the seasoning monosodium glutamate (MSG).

4. Manage Your Sleep - Many of us cheat ourselves out of sleep each night for various reasons, but scientists have found in several studies that the more we rest each night (8 hours without reading or watching TV in bed is the ideal), the less headaches we experience. If you can't get the eight hours, you should try to get as close to eight as possible. If you keep a diary and experience good results, you will be motivated to set aside the proper amount of time for bed rest each night.

5. Exercise - I'm not talking about going to the gym and pumping iron for six hours every day. I'm talking about just walking briskly on a regular schedule, at least 20 minutes at a time, three times a week. 30 minutes a day, every day, would be ideal, though. If even the minimum is hard to fit into your busy schedule, you can still get some exercise in by either taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little bit farther away when you go to work or run errands, and getting up from your desk at work and walking around more often. The point of walking is to increase blood flow and oxygen levels to the various organs throughout your body, which will help to decrease the occurrence of headaches.

This longer term approach to managing headaches, along with consulting your doctor regarding frequent or severe headache occurrences, will hopefully help you take a little more control over your health in the future. Then your headaches should become less of a headache in your life.

Edward Hedrenz works in the healthcare industry and enjoys writing about health-related issues. To learn more about headaches and what you can do to prevent them, visit Headaches Everyday or

Source: EzineArticles
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