Q: What triggers my headaches, & how can I find relief from them?

Q: “I’m always getting headaches. What are some simple things I can try to get rid of them?”

A: Headaches can be somewhat bothersome for many people.  Managing a headache depends on the possible cause.  The most common reasons for headaches include dehydration,  stress, poor sleep,  allergies, poor diet, caffeine, or migraines.  Identifying the cause can be difficult.  

When people experience chronic reoccurring headaches, it is recommended that the person begin a “headache diary” to document the date and time of the headache, as well as any treatment tried and if it was effective, and what foods they had recently consumed as well as any caffeine intake.  Once several weeks of information are gathered in the “diary”,  it can help identify possible triggers.  

Increasing water intake can be very beneficial to relieve headaches.  Sugary or even caffeinated beverages actually can dehydrate the human body due to the diuretic effect of such beverages.  Monitoring sleep patterns and insuring an adequate amount of sleep each night  (7-8 hours typically) can also help reduce headache frequency.  Utilizing yoga or other relaxation techniques are beneficial in reducing stress. Exercise and stretching muscles  are    also beneficial in reducing frequency and severity of headaches.   Using Over-The-Counter medication’s including Tylenol, Motrin, or naproxen are typically safe, however,  some people may experience rebound headaches once the medications effect has worn off.  

A person should seek immediate medical attention if their headache has caused a sudden change in vision, any weakness, confusion, or personality change.  Medical attention is also required if the headache is accompanied by a fever and neck stiffness.

It is advised to let your healthcare provider know if you experience any chronic recurrent headaches at your next visit so that they can help address any other underlying issues that may be causing these headaches. 

This question from a reader was answered by Shannon Bashlor, APRN, FNP-BC. She practices at Robert C. Byrd Clinic in Lewisburg.

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