If you’ve ever suffered from a headache or a migraine then you know how debilitating they can be. Needing to find the quietest, darkest room possible, along with taking an acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain is usually the only resolve. But did you know headaches are something you might actually be able to avoid?

Identify and Avoid Triggers

Headaches and migraines can come on due to a variety of different reasons. Common causes of headaches include lack of sleep, stress, poor posture, loud noises, bright lights, teeth grinding, bad weather, and certain scents/odours (like perfume or household cleaners/chemicals for example.) Being able to identify any known triggers is key in allowing your doctor to provide you with the right treatment.

Next, you’ll want to avoid these triggers. When it comes to lack of sleep, family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary recommend patients get at least 8 hours of sleep if they’re able. If you have a hard time getting to sleep and/or staying awake, you can try meditation to help; in some cases patients may need to be prescribed a medication to help them fall asleep. When it comes to stress, that in and of itself can also come with many triggers. When you identify what it is that’s causing you stress and remove that stressor from your life, you are at a much less risk of developing a headache. Poor posture is not only known to trigger headaches, but can also cause back problems later in life. If you sit at a desk for an extended amount of time, try to take breaks, and also make sure you’re not slouching at your seat. Things like loud noises and bright lights are sometimes unavoidable (for example, if you’re walking by a construction site), so it may be a good idea to have ear plugs and sunglasses on hand just in case a situation arises where you might need them. If you’re a teeth grinder, speak to your dentist about having a nightguard made. This may significantly reduce your headaches and also improve your oral health. As for scents, try to avoid using things like perfumes. Instead, opt for unscented soaps, or things without strong odours.

What About Food?

Your diet can impact your health in many different ways. Along with all of the triggers mentioned by Dr. Ali Ghahary above, what you eat can also be a common culprit when it comes to headaches and migraines. If you get frequent headaches, getting rid of them may simply be a matter of changing your diet.

Certain foods have been known to trigger headaches; these commonly include chocolate, cheese, cured meats, frozen foods, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, dairy products and alcohol. Then there are the foods that help relieve headaches. Ginger, for example, has been used as a natural remedy for many decades, and its anti-inflammatory properties can not only help fight headaches, but also reduce the nausea that is so often associated with migraines. Other great headache reducing foods include melons (such as cantaloupe or watermelon), cherries, peppers, fish (such as tuna and salmon), and peppermint. It’s also important to drink lots of water, as headaches can also be caused by dehydration.