Headaches are so commonplace that we barely pay any attention to them – pop a couple of painkillers and carry on our day. But headaches, just like any reoccurring symptom, are a communication from our body, letting us know it isn’t quite happy - and if we listen, we can help optimise our well being.
So, instead of reaching for the paracetamol, consider some of these common triggers for your recurring headaches:
A very common trigger for headaches is dehydration. Without adequate water your body simply cannot function properly. Consider dehydration a cause for your headache if you haven’t had at least eight glasses of water, have taken caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, or have been sweating excessively (such as at the gym).
The body has to work on overdrive when it is under stress – be it physical, mental or emotional stress. As a result, this can cause a build-up of muscular tension in the head and neck area, causing headaches. If you are under stress, make relaxation an essential and regular part of your routine. Even something as simple as a quick 20-minute guided meditation track, of which there are many on YouTube, will give the mind a chance to rest and regroup from the day’s stresses and strains.
If your eyesight is under strain, due to constant screen time or vision issues, this may trigger headaches. Take frequent screen breaks and visit an optician for a full sight assessment.
Chronic inflamed sinuses can be a persistent cause of headaches due to build up of pressure in the sinus cavities. Chronic sinus issues respond very well to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary adjustments.
Frequent headaches can be a sign that your body is lacking certain vital nutrients such as vitamin D, B vitamins or, most commonly, magnesium.
If you notice your headaches occur at key times of your monthly cycle, such as before or during the period, or at ovulation, then this can indicate your hormones are out of balance.
If the body is working too had to remove toxins, this can trigger headaches. Toxins include environmental chemicals such as pollution, fire retardants, cleaning and cosmetic products, air fresheners and synthetic candles, food chemicals, additives and pesticides, plastic food packaging, and non-essential pharmaceuticals. Try to reduce the toxic load by using ‘green’ products and eating organic, and increasing your intake of green leafy and sulphur-containing foods to support the liver.
If you are sitting at a desk all day, observe your posture. A stooped, hunched posture will create immense pressure on the neck muscles that support the head, and can lead to tension headaches. Regularly readjust your posture, sitting up straight with your shoulders back and the chin tucked in to lengthen the neck muscles.
Frequent severe headaches should be investigated by your GP to eliminate any medical causes such as hypertension. If headaches and migraines are a problem for you, seeking the help of a licensed acupuncturist can help enormously. Acupuncture has been found to be extremely effective in treating headaches, and can also be safely used during pregnancy
Fiona O'Farrell is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Naturopath. She runs The Gate Clinic in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. See www.thegateclinic.ie
for more information.