Common Causes of Headaches
Chronic headaches are a common problem for many people. Taking a painkiller may get rid of that pain in your head but it may cause unwanted side effects. The first step to treating headaches is finding out what’s causing them in the first place.
Common Causes of Headaches
1. Food Allergies
Food allergies are a common cause of headaches. When you’re intolerant to one or more foods, your immune system triggers an inflammatory response in your body. Migraines and tension headaches can be caused by an intolerance to gluten, MSG, soy, food dyes, and, rarely, lactose products.
An elimination diet is a common way to test for food allergies but it can be very tedious and difficult to follow. There’s no real way to be sure you’re not getting small amounts of the offending food in your diet. An easier way to test for food allergies is a comprehensive blood test but it’s important to note that not all blood tests are the same.
Many patients have had blood tests come back negative for gluten and other food intolerances but removing the food(s) have proved quite helpful. With the elimination diet, you remove gluten, lactose products, soy, citrus food, peanuts, food dyes, and shellfish for a period of 2 months. You then reintroduce each food en masse one day at a time to test for a reaction.
2. Hay Fever
A chronic pain in the head could also indicate hay fever, especially if your headaches are accompanied by sneezing, itchy watery eyes, coughing, and post nasal drip. Prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines may help alleviate symptoms temporarily but they do nothing to treat the cause.
Hay fever is caused by an overactive immune system. This is why, to effectively treat allergies and other chronic sinus problems, you must first support the immune system. Probiotics can help repopulate your gut with healthy, immune-boosting bacteria while quercetin helps stop the overproduction of histamines. Taking one to two teaspoons of raw honey each day can also help inoculate your system against pollen.
That pain in your head could also be stress-related. When you’re stressed, your breathing becomes shallow and the muscles in your shoulders tense.
The combination of lack of oxygen and muscular tension can cause a headache that starts in your neck and moves up to the base of your skull in a throbbing ache that just won’t go away.
When you’re feeling stressed, try some deep breathing exercises and gently roll your neck from side to side. If you’re able to, bend over from the waist and allow yourself to hang there for a while. This helps release pressure on your neck.
4. Caffeine Withdrawal
If you drink a lot of caffeine and stop suddenly, you could get a terrible headache from caffeine withdrawal due to constricted blood vessels. Giving up caffeine is a good idea for your health but it’s best to taper off slowly.
Do you drink enough water? Chronic headaches are often a sign you’re not getting enough life-giving H20. You need at least 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day to keep your body functioning at its best. The best way to tell if you’re drinking enough water is to pay attention to the color of your urine. It should be a very light yellow or clear.
6. Lack of Sleep
Your body needs at least 7 hours of uninterrupted rest each night to function at its best. When you don’t get enough sleep, excess amounts of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine cause that terrible pain in your head.
Insomnia-related headaches are usually tension headaches that start at the base of your skull and move upward. Stretching, deep breathing exercises, and inversions can help ease the discomfort for the day but the only thing that will stop these headaches permanently is a good night’s rest.
If you struggle with insomnia, try taking a chelated magnesium supplement. Magnesium deficiency is quite common and can lead to anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, muscle twitching, and mood swings.
7. Hormonal Changes
Hormone fluctuations caused by PMS, pregnancy, and menopause can trigger tension and migraine headaches in women. Oftentimes, birth control pills containing high levels of estrogen can trigger migraine attacks and worsen the severity of headaches. A combination of evening primrose oil, boswellia, and chelated magnesium can help combat the pain of hormone-related migraines.
Headaches can cause debilitating pain. If, after changing your diet, and treating your allergies, you’re still experiencing pain in your head, book a visit with a physician for a full evaluation just to rule out anything serious.