Headaches are extremely common. Among all the symptoms, headaches are definitely some of the most well-known ones.
In fact, they are so commonly encountered that it is almost impossible not to have had a headache at least once in your life.
Headaches are indeed very commonly encountered – but not many people actually understand them.
The typical reaction to having a headache is simply taking an aspirin or ibuprofen and then forgetting about it.
And even if the vast majority of the headaches experienced by people are not actually dangerous, it is still worth trying to avoid them.
Headaches: What You Probably Don’t Know About Them
If you have experienced at least one migraine in your life, you know just how awful it feels. In fact, it feels as if your brain is ready to explode – and you would do anything just to make the pain go away.
However, did you know that it is not the brain itself that hurts? The brain has no pain receptors in it, so it is impossible to actually perceive pain in this very important organ of our body.
However, the membrane covering the body has certain sensitive spots – and it is precisely there where you will experience pain.
Also, did you know that specialists have counted no less than 200 types of headaches?
They all fall within several categories, but their large number can be absolutely staggering when it comes to actually putting a diagnosis solely based on the headache itself.
As you may probably know, headaches are a common symptom of a very large number of diseases and medical conditions and they are non-specific, which means that it is impossible to actually diagnose someone just based on their headache (no matter how accurate the description of the headache itself is).
Basically, there are two main types of headaches: primary and secondary. Migraines are an example of primary headaches and no less than 90% of all the types of headaches out there fall into the group of primary headaches.
Normally, primary headaches are not dangerous – but they can definitely be very painful.
It is secondary headaches that are most dangerous for people. These headaches are usually associated with brain bleeding, brain tumors and other severe conditions of the brain that can be life-threatening- especially if left untreated.
There are several risk factors and associated symptoms that come along with a headache that may show the fact that the headache is of the secondary type and therefore, dangerous.
These risk factors and symptoms come under the abbreviation “SSNOOP”: systemic symptoms (weight loss, fever), systemic disease (HIV), neurologic symptoms (confusion, speech issues, loss of memory), onset (when it is sudden), age (when a new type of headache is experienced at an age older than 40-50 years old) and previous history (when the headache appeared, how it develops, if it changed its pattern).
Can You Actually Prevent Headaches?
Up to a certain extent, yes, you can actually prevent headaches. While there may be conditions out there that come along with headaches that are fairly unknown, there are many others which we know a lot about, thanks to the advances made in the medical world.
Knowing about all the diseases and medical conditions that may show headaches as symptoms is, obviously, impossible – but what you can do is make sure that you try to avoid certain things that are very commonly associated with headaches of various types (tension headaches, migraines, and so on).
Read on and find out more about the prevention things you should start doing today to lower the chances of suffering from headaches.
1- Start by keeping a diary and record all your headache occurrences. You should be fairly familiar with the pattern your headaches have and you may even notice a lot of things you are doing are actually worsening the condition.
Make sure to write down every time you experience a headache and to write down what you were doing before the onset, as well as how long it lasts, how it feels, how severe it is and so on.
2- Avoid stress as much as possible. It can be difficult to do this given the fact that we live in very stressful times, but try at least to take a break and relax every once in a while because it can really make the difference.
3- Don’t smoke (or quit smoking). Smoking is not connected only to lung cancer as some may think, but to many, many types of medical conditions (some of which can also be associated with headaches).
For instance, smoking can increase your blood pressure – which can also lead to headaches.
4- Alcohol is also quite harmful for you. The occasional drink will probably not cause you headaches, but red wine and larger quantities of other types of alcohol can actually trigger headaches.
The sulfites contained by red wine in particular, the fact that it increases the blood flow into the brain, the fact that it dehydrates your body – all these things can contribute to awful headaches.
5- Avoid eating old cheese. Gouda, parmesan and cheddar may be delicious, but more recent studies have shown that a substance that occurs in old cheese, called tyramine can be a very common cause for headaches.
6- Eat enough. If you don’t eat, it is very likely that you will develop a headache.
7- Keep yourself hydrated. Lose the soda and have your 8 glasses of water every day because they are healthier than anything else you could drink.
8- Certain food additives (such as monosodium glutamate) that are found in products you probably use on a regular basis (soy sauce for example) can also lead to headaches.
9- Pay attention to your caffeine intake. Small amounts of caffeine are actually helpful in managing migraines, but once your coffee intake exceeds 200 mg/day, it is very likely that you will experience headaches when you don’t get this dose.
10- Sleep enough. Sleeping is more important than you probably think, so do make sure that you get the hours of sleep that your body needs (this can be calculated according to weight, age and other factors).
Be aware though, too much sleep, as well as not enough sleep, can really cause terrible headaches.