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Headaches - Prevention

Prevent headaches

You may be able to prevent headaches by changing your daily routine. Identify possible causes of your headaches using a headache diary(What is a PDF document?).

  • Eat regularly. Do not skip meals. Choose nutritious foods. Do not fill up on salty foods or carbonated beverages.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Set a bedtime and time to get up, and stick to them, even on weekends. This will help your body get used to a regular sleep time. Avoid oversleeping.
  • Physical therapy may help you strengthen your neck muscles, improve your posture, and increase your mobility.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, or even dancing or gardening are great ways to relieve stress. If you tend to hold tension in your neck and shoulders, walking may be especially helpful. The swinging motion of the arms seems to relax those muscles.
    • Practice a relaxation exercise once or twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes.
    • Try massage, which can reduce muscle tension, especially in your neck and shoulder muscles. Muscle tension can cause headaches or make them worse.
  • Practice good posture and body mechanics at home and at work:
    • Sit straight in your chair with your lower back supported. If you sit most of the day, take breaks once an hour to stretch your neck muscles. There are some specific neck exercises you can do during your breaks.
    • If you work at a computer, adjust your monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye level. Use a document holder to keep the copy at the same level as the screen.
    • If you frequently use the telephone, consider a headset or speakerphone. Do not cradle the handset between your shoulder and your ear.
  • Have frequent dental checkups and yearly eye examinations.

Headaches can often be prevented by avoiding things that may cause, or "trigger," the pain. Although these triggers may be different for different people, generally avoid:

To prevent a child's headache:

  • Make sure your child gets enough rest.
  • Offer frequent nutritious snacks and beverages during the day. Do not allow your child to fill up on salty foods or carbonated beverages.
  • Do not allow your child to skip meals.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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