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Posted on 12-19-2016

Oh, my aching head! If you've uttered these words, you're not alone. Headaches are one of the most common physical complaints in the-world-millions of people suffer from them. While most headaches are not life-threatening, they certainly cause pain, suffering and loss of time from work, family, friends. They are a huge pain in your life! Understanding headaches is the first step to determining what you can do to prevent and treat your headaches.

Headaches Defined

Most headaches are just that-a headache. This type of headache is called a primary headache. An estimated 5% of headaches are warning signals for illnesses or serious physical problems. These headaches are called secondary headaches. If you ever had a a headache that strikes suddenly, is accompanied by numbness, confusion, slurred speech or any other unusual symptom, seek emergency care IMMEDIATELY.

Primary headaches are generally divided into three categories:

Tension-type headaches: This type of headache is by far the most common. Typically tension-type headache pain is moderate to severe and is usually generalized all over the head.

Migraines: Migraines are sever, throbbing, often one-sided headaches. They may last several minutes or several days. They are often accompanied by nausea, loss of appetite and even visual changes called auras. Recent research reveals that migraines may have physical "triggers" such as stress, diet or medications.

Cervicogenic headaches: These headaches are a musculoskeletal form of tension headaches that may be related to migraines. Neck pain and stiffness accompany these headaches.

Headaches Triggers

A wide range of factors can often trigger bad headaches, such as:

  • Certain Foods (see below)
  • Hunger or missed meals
  • Changes in weather
  • Some physical activities
  • Emotions and stress
  • Medications
  • Hormonal changes

Some foods & beverage that may trigger headaches:

  • Alcohol; red wine, vermouth, champagne, beer
  • Beverages with caffeine; coffee, tea, soft drinks
  • Dairy Products; aged cheeses, such as cheddar
  • Vegetables and Fruit; some types of beans (Italian, lima, lentil, fava, soy), sauerkraut, peas, avocados and overripe bananas
  • Snacks; peanuts, peanut butter
  • Meats; salted and cured meats (ham, corned beef, sausage, bacon, lunch meats), dried meats, pickled herring, chicken livers
  • Soups; canned or from mixes
  • Desserts; chocolate based

Information from the National Headache Foundation. www.headaches.org

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