It is giving me a headache…

What is giving you a headache?  It can be just about anything.  A headache is defined by any pain in your head – duh.  It can be a primary headache, like a tension or migraine headache which are often brought on by environmental or physical triggers or it can be a secondary headache.  Secondary headaches are those that are caused by other conditions, e.g. head trauma, high blood pressure, an aneurysm, a sinus infection, allergies, a brain tumor.  Today, I will highlight some of the causes of primary headaches which, surprisingly, are coming to me faster than I can type on this beautiful Monday morning … “I wanna shoot, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, oot … the whole day down.”

1.  What you eat or don’t eat — caffeine is the most notorious in this category.  Too little caffeine and you are shaking and your head is pounding, too much and you are shaking and your head is pounding.  It is not the only guilty food component, though.  Tyramine is also known to cause headaches and can be found in lots of aged cheeses and cold cuts.  Forgetting to eat, resulting in low blood sugar can cause a headache as well.

2.  What you drink or don’t drink — you know what kind of drinks cause day-after headaches but I don’t think I need to go there – I’m no traitor.  Not drinking causes headaches too.  Dehydration is so often the culprit in headaches that if you have one or feel one coming on, it is worth your while to try to chug a big glass of water before you open the medicine cabinet – even if you don’t feel thirsty.

3.  What you smell — any strong smell can trigger a headache.  Perfume, fresh paint, scented candles, body odor, and cigarette smoke can all cause head pain.  I got through medical school by learning how to consistently breathe through my mouth.

4.  What you hear and see —  have you been to a stadium event or Chuckie Cheese recently?  Loud, continuous noises and bright lights, as you know, can cause headaches.  If you are prone to headaches at these types of venues, consider taking something prophylactically and drinking lots of water.  Earplugs, while doing very little for your reputation, will do a lot to dampen the sound.

5.  What makes you grouchy – all the things that can ruin your day can give you a headache.  Stress and anxiety, changes in your hormones, lack of sleep and drug or alcohol withdrawal are all triggers for head pain.  Exercise and sex can also cause headaches.  (I wasn’t sure where to put them in my “five things” but figured at some point one of them or lack of one of them has ruined your day.)

So I sit here — second coffee cup in hand; no breakfast yet; stressed about having to figure out what the strange smell coming from the refrigerator is; work out clothes on, which, oddly is not helping me lose weight, needing to get ready to work at the school where there are many children which means much noise; and I can’t have any wine until at least noon.   From a headache standpoint, I’m screwed.  I am going to drink a big glass of water, eat a cereal bar, put on some real clothes and hope for the best.

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