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
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
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
massage, which can reduce muscle tension, especially in
your neck and shoulder muscles. Muscle tension can cause headaches or make them
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
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.
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
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:
Alcohol and caffeine (coffee, tea, or soda
Sudden caffeine withdrawal.
Foods, such as very
salty foods or foods that contain the preservative MSG.
habits, including missing meals, extreme diets, and fasting.
the muscles of the jaw from grinding or clenching teeth or chewing
Herbal remedies, such as ginseng or St. John's wort.
To prevent a child's headache:
Make sure your child gets enough
Offer frequent nutritious snacks and beverages during the
day. Do not allow your child to fill up on salty foods or carbonated
Do not allow your child to skip meals.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
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