How To Prevent Headaches
By the editors of Prevention
Whether it's a once-a-week occurrence or a rare surprise, a bad headache can ruin even the most perfect day -- but considering 22 million women suffer from regular headaches and migraines, we probably don't have to tell you that. Besides the obvious, like avoiding hangovers and staying hydrated, here are some of the more sneaky ways to prevent your temples from pounding.
Choose Appetizers Wisely
As delicious as those tiny little hors d’oeurvres are, they may be hiding a nasty pain trigger. Foods that are smoked, pickled, dried or aged -- aka, all the good stuff like cheese and salami -- may contain sulfites, which dilate blood vessels and can cause headaches. Keep your plate full of fresh fruit instead.
Keep To Your Schedule
You might guess that manic Mondays are prime time for headaches, but weekends are a stealth contender. When you sleep in, everything gets pushed back a little -- including your daily cup of coffee. Withdrawal headaches can be avoided by keeping to the same schedule every day. So set your alarm clock and embrace your caffeine addiction -- after all, coffee is good for you.
The next time you’re steering toward a shouting match with your partner or are ready to tear out your hair over a deadline, take a break and a few calming breaths. It won’t just help your relationships: When you’re anxious, you take shorter breaths, and less oxygen means tighter blood vessels. Boom, headache. Keep your breathing calm and steady to avoid pain.
Turn Off Your Computer
No surprise here: Staring at a bright screen all day puts strain on your eyes and can too easily lead to an achy brain. Plus, the flashing images, not to mention toggling between Facebook and YouTube, can over-activate your retina and the nerves in your eyes, another cause of head pain. Take a 10-minute break for every hour you’re online to stave off headaches.
Don't Linger At The Pump
Many people are allergic to certain scents, with the most common symptom being -- you guessed it -- a killer headache. Three smells that tend to trigger reactions are gasoline, tobacco and perfume. Stash a small vial of all-natural lavender or peppermint oil in your glove compartment to distract your senses when it's time to fill up the tank.
Let Your Hair Down
Over half of women get tension headaches from an unforgiving hairdo that pulls at their scalp. That high bun is cute, but take it down if you can’t make it past 2 p.m. without pain.
Slip On Your Shades
A headache during a beautiful sunny day is the worst -- but that sunshine can mess with your brain’s thalamus, which sends pain signals to your body. To stay safe from the glare, have polarized sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection at the ready.
Stock Up On Herbs
For a classic herbal remedy, try 200 mg of active magnesium, which reduces muscle tension and spasms. It works best for headaches that you know are coming, like the menstrual kind, so you're able to take a dose the day before. Rosemary can ease the blood vessels, too.
Prevention is the nation's leading healthy lifestyle brand, with a U.S. magazine audience of 10.2 million readers, and a top digital destination that has 6.6 million unique visitors each month. Prevention's Twitter handle is @PreventionMag. Prevention magazine and its apps are available on the iPhone and iPad.