We've all had headaches at some point, and an estimated 35 million Americans are affected by migraines.
We all know that a bad night of sleep or a head cold can contribute to headaches, but recurring headaches are a lot more complex than a lot of conditions. Unlike things like seasonal allergies, where you can pinpoint a few factors that trigger your symptoms, headaches aren't as easy to figure out. They're highly individual, and one person's trigger might be someone else's relief.
Headaches do have some lesser-known causes, though. Here are some things to consider when you're trying to decode your headache.
Did you know that some people simply cannot tolerate caffeine? Depending on your genes, you may be part of the population that doesn't metabolize caffeine like everyone else. Consuming something you cannot tolerate could be contributing to your headaches.
But the opposite is actually true for some people. A small cup of joe could help relieve tension headaches, depending on your individual biology. This is a gray area though, because if you’re using caffeine to put a bandage on a larger problem, you’ll ignore the real issue and you might end up overconsuming caffeine.
Then, there are the ones who are sipping steadily all day, and too much of anything can spell trouble. If you regularly drink more than four cups of coffee a day, cut back to see if your headaches improve.
Sugar and headaches
Sugar and headaches have been linked, but again, it's complicated. Eating sugary foods can cause headaches in some people because the blood sugar highs and lows that come with it can be difficult for your body to handle, and that can manifest as a headache or even a migraine.
Others find that sugar causes their headaches because they are sensitive to glucose shifts or are even prediabetic and don't know it. If you find that you get headaches shortly after indulging in sweets, you might want to ask your doctor about blood sugar testing.
If you want to experiment on your own, cut sugar for a few weeks and see how you feel. Don't worry, you don't have to give up your favorite treats. You can have brownies, cookies, and even chocolate made with natural sweetener to satisfy your sweet tooth.
A lot of us sit at the computer all day long, which could cause your eyes to become fatigued. The wavelengths of light from screens aren't natural, which contributes even further to the problem.
If you're getting headaches and it's been a while since you visited the eye doctor, it might be time to make an appointment. You can also try blue light blocking glasses while you're working at the computer to help block the wavelengths that stress your eyes out the most.
More women get migraines than men, and a lot of affected women can predict when they will come about based on their menstrual cycle.
There are several theories as to why this is the case, but one thought is that the drop in estrogen levels right before your period is what triggers migraines. If you find that you get migraines around the same time every month, speak with your doctor about hormone testing, ways to prevent headaches from coming on, and ways to ease the pain.
You might have been dealing with headaches and migraines for so long that you think they're just a part of your normal existence. But, there's always the opportunity to do some detective work to see if you can get some answers. Everyone deserves to feel great every day. Asking the right questions and self-experimentation can help get you there.