5 Things to Know About Headaches

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Headaches-- we all get them at one time or another. They're usually harmless. But there are a few things you may not know about headaches. Number one, there are really only three major types of headaches-- tension headaches, which are caused by tight neck muscles; vascular headaches like migraines or cluster headaches, which come from changes in your blood vessels; and condition-related headaches caused by things like sinuses, hormones, or medications. There are some weird ones, too-- weather related headaches, headaches caused by your period, a lack of sleep, too much sleep, or even sex headaches, which come on after orgasm. That's no fun at all.

Number two, there are some odd treatments, too. Everything from yoga to yogurt has been tried to treat headaches. And some treatments work better than others. If tense muscles are your problem, yoga can certainly help along with other relaxing technique like biofeedback, massage, and acupuncture.

Number three, what you eat matters. Did you know aged cheeses like feta, Parmesan, and blue cheese all have a chemical called tyramine that can cause headaches? Other foods like hot dogs, bacon, and other cured meats have nitrates and nitrites that can be a real pain in the head. Salt, caffeine, alcohol, and the food additive MSG can also be a problem for some people. The best way to figure out which foods affect you is keep a headache journal.

Number four, straighten up. Mom always said good posture was important. And she was right. Most of us spend all day slouching, squinting, and scrunching up those next muscles. Those are all great ways to get a headache. Go for a walk. Talk to a coworker in person instead of sending an email. Or even do some stretches right at your desk.

Last but certainly not least, number five, pay attention. Most headaches aren't cause for alarm. But if you're getting them a few times a week or if they're keeping you from living your life, go see a doctor. Headaches can signal high blood pressure, cancer, mineral deficiencies, or eye problems. So don't ignore them. And those are the five things you need to know about headaches.