The old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And if you suffer from frequent headaches or migraine attacks, you know this firsthand.
Dr. Dinash Yanamadula, our board-certified pain management specialist at Princeton Pain & Spine Institute in Lawrenceville and Edgewater, New Jersey, offers several effective treatments for chronic migraine attacks and headaches, but he’d much rather help you avoid them altogether. That’s why he’s put together these tips for staving off headaches.
The first step in preventing headaches is getting to the underlying cause. Headaches come in many different types, and they generally fall into one of two categories: primary and secondary.
Primary headaches are medical conditions in and of themselves. These include:
Although it may feel like your brain hurts when you have a primary headache, your brain doesn’t actually feel pain. Rather, what you’re feeling is inflammation of the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels in and around your head and neck.
Secondary headaches are symptoms of something else, such as a sinus infection, allergies, or trauma. This type of headache can also indicate a serious underlying problem like a brain tumor or aneurysm.
A consultation with Dr. Yanamadula and a full exam can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your headaches and learn which type you have.
If you have migraine disease, Dr. Yanamadula may recommend medication or other therapies to help you manage your attacks. If you have a back injury, it may be the culprit behind your head pain. In this case, Dr. Yanamadula addresses the injury or nerve damage that’s leading to muscle and nerve inflammation, which may reduce or eliminate your headaches.
You play an important role in your headache management, too. Here’s what you can do to keep your headaches to a minimum.
Jot down the circumstances surrounding your headaches or migraine attacks. You can either use an app or a small notebook. Record everything that may set off your headaches, such as:
This can establish a pattern and help you identify what triggers your headaches. Once you know what’s causing your headaches — avoid those things.
Most adults need at least seven hours of sound sleep to restore their bodies and function well throughout the day. Teens need even more — up to 10 hours a night. Inadequate sleep can trigger migraine attacks and headaches.
But routine is also part of the sleep equation. It’s best to keep to a sleep schedule when possible, going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day.
Too much caffeine can affect your sleep quantity and quality, so don’t consume it too close to bedtime.
If caffeine is one of your headache or migraine attack triggers, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate frequently. This counteracts your efforts to stay hydrated, which brings us to our next tip.
Your muscles, nerves, and circulatory system need plenty of water to operate properly, so if you’re running low, inflammation and pain can set in. By the time you feel thirsty, you’ve been dehydrated for a while. Avoid that by drinking water as soon as you wake up, with every meal, and a few full glasses in between.
For many people, headaches occur when something in their life or environment changes — the weather, their diet, or their schedule. That’s why it’s a good idea to stick to a sleep routine, and the same goes for your meals.
Don’t skip meals — in fact, schedule regular snacks to make sure you don’t get overly hungry throughout the day. Choose healthy foods and avoid anything you’ve discovered that may trigger your headaches, such as spicy foods, certain preservatives, or alcohol.
Stress tightens your muscles, and prolonged contractions can lead to tension headaches and trigger other types of pain as well. Do what you can to avoid high-stress situations, and learn how to manage stress-related headaches by practicing deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, yoga, or meditation.
To find out what’s behind your headaches and learn how you can prevent and treat them, schedule a consultation with Dr. Yanamadula by calling our friendly staff at either of our two New Jersey locations or booking online today.