What causes headaches and migraines, and how best to deal with them » EntornoInteligente

What causes headaches and migraines, and how best to deal with them


Entornointeligente.com / Headaches occur due to a combination of several reasons according to experts. Exercise might prove just as successful as medication when treating them. We all know how it feels to have a headache. It’s not like other physical pains we experience.

A headache can lead to nausea, while some may make you think negatively.

Some of us start praying to cope. Others try to sleep them off despite most headaches being detrimental to achieving a good, deep sleep. 

According to experts, going out in search of fresh air and exercising are actually some of the best things you could do to combat the pain they cause.

“I write an exercise prescription probably as often as I write a prescription for medication,” said Carolyn Bernstein, a neurologist, who leads the Comprehensive Headache Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. 

Bernstein strongly believes that exercise helps, despite it being difficult for people who suffer from headaches to want to engage in it. Nonetheless, it is her best advice for anyone suffering. 

Even just a little exercise outdoors benefits patients – it has to do with fresh air moving around the body which in turn works to distract the brain’s focus on your headache and shift it to other stimuli, like recognising a beautiful tree, a bright sky or the beauty of snow on a winter’s day. 

“Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. When one exercises, the body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers,” wrote  Lucy Rathier, a psychologist and the clinical director of behavioural medicine clinical services at Lifespan, an American health facility. 

“Exercise reduces stress and helps individuals to sleep at night. Stress and inadequate sleep are two migraine triggers,” Rathier explained. 

Migraines are a primary headache disorder and one of the most common neurological illnesses. While 12 million Americans suffer from headaches every year, approximately one quarter of the US population suffer from migraines. 

A 2011 study showed that moving the body as well as regular relaxation exercises are almost equally as effective as taking topiramate, a medication used to treat epilepsy and prevent migraines. The study also demonstrated that just three hours of exercise in a week, or less, can help cure them. 

“Therefore, exercise can be an effective intervention in the preventive treatment of migraines,” Rathier observed. 

While stretching one’s legs can help, experts also advise people to identify triggers to better deal with them. Here is a short list of how we might be able to do just that.

An old advertisement for a headache medicine. (Wikipedia Commons) What might trigger headaches? 

Knowing what has caused your headache is useful – it may help you prevent them in the future. 

Triggers vary from a lack of fresh air to bright light, alcohol intake, diet, sleep disorders, stressful conditions, and not going to the bathroom enough.

Stress is a major trigger. It usually leads to a tightening of the muscles in the shoulders and neck, which may then go on to become a tension headache, or even a migraine.

“It's believed to start in the muscles. When tension headaches become frequent, the pain in shoulder and neck muscles is felt by the brain as pain in the head,” said Sait Ashina , a neurologist. 

The type of food we eat might also be behind our headaches, or in the reverse case, it could help decrease them if we recognise what is good for us and what is not.

“Processed foods with nitrites, nitrates, yellow food dyes, or monosodium glutamate can be especially problematic,” Ashina said, referring to possible dietary sources of headaches. 

But do you know which processed food includes nitrites and nitrates? 

According to experts, ham and deli meat is often the most common source for these two substances. After ham, bacon is another source high in nitrates – in fact, it is “incredibly high” in them. 

On the other hand, drinks like rosemary tea might significantly help reduce headaches and migraines. 

Alcohol consumption may also be blamed for migraines and cluster headaches, a type of a neurological disorder that leads to recurrent intense headaches generally in areas around one of the eyes. Experts warn that any kind of alcohol could result in severe headaches. 

Many of us are also aware that consuming less than our usual amount of preferred coffee or tea in the day is a move that may leave us with a sore head. Why? Experts confirm  that caffeine withdrawal is indeed a trigger all on its own. 

“(W)ithout caffeine, the blood vessels widen and bulge out with each heartbeat — a chief reason for the pounding pain of migraines,” said a Harvard Medical School health report. 


Experts point out that headaches are also a possible symptom of Covid-19. 

“This virus is behaving very differently than a lot of other viruses in the past. It appears that one of the first symptoms that people have, before they develop cough, is they will get anosmia, which is a lack of sense of smell. They can get really bad headache at that time,”  said Dr. Megan Donnelly, a women’s neurologist and board-certified headache specialist at Novant Health Neurology and Headache – SouthPark in Charlotte. 

Some headaches might also be related to the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

When at home more often, one looks at things at close range. This forces eye muscles to work harder in order to concentrate, leading them to get overtired and sore. As a result, you might develop eye strain headaches. 

Last piece of advice: don’t look at your computer screens too much. Be aware that in the digital age, humanity has concocted a new illness called computer vision syndrome .

Source: TRT World


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