All of us get headaches. Big or small, once a month or several times a week, our headaches are bothersome nuisances or truly debilitating. Here are some ways you can help prevent your headaches:
1. Keep a headache calendar
Keep a monthly headache calendar tracking which days you had a headache, how severe it was from 1-10, which as needed medications you took and any side effects, and how long the headache lasted. Also keep track of any possible triggers such as foods, alcohol, sleep changes, weather changes, or stressors. By keeping these records you may be able to identify headache triggers and work on cutting them out of your lifestyle.
2. Have regular sleep habits
Keep a regular sleep pattern, allowing 8 hours of sleep per night. Try to keep regular bedtimes and wake times without major fluctuations between the weekdays and weekends. Headaches may be worsened by oversleeping, undersleeping, or shifting sleep schedules.
3. Don’t have too much caffeine
Avoid having too much caffeine intake – coffee, soda, tea, etc. Try to limit to 2 cups per day or less.
4. Eat healthy and stay hydrated
Keep a healthful diet and stay well hydrated. Frequent small meals tend to be better than a few larger ones. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, MSG, and processed meats. Some patients also do well with a gluten free diet (has to be 100% gluten free), or eliminating other things like dairy or soy.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise regularly, several days per week, combination of stretching, aerobic, and strengthening exercises. Yoga is very good for headache sufferers.
6. Reduce stress
Learn stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, imagery exercises, or biofeedback.
7. Limit headache medications
Limit as needed medications for headaches to a maximum of 2-3 days per week to avoid worsening headaches. Taking an as needed medication more than 2-3 days per week will make headaches worse in the long run.
8. Try natural supplements to reduce headaches
Consider trying natural supplements to help reduce headache frequency. Options with good headache benefit include magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme q10.