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Preventing Headaches

by K. Brown / Mar 05, 2016 / category : headache / 3322 views
Preventing Headaches

Preventing Headaches

For someone who suffers from chronic headaches, headache prevention is like finding the Holy Grail. Rather than simply treating headaches once they start, is it possible to actually stop headaches from occurring in the first place?

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The good news is that it is definitely possible to manage your headaches! No method of headache prevention is foolproof, but even chronic headache sufferers can often reduce the frequency of headaches and improve their quality of life.

Preventative Drugs

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Many of the drugs used to treat headaches can also be used to prevent them.

  • Triptans, the most popular choice for treating migraines, are often used to prevent migraines.
  • Other drugs used to treat migraines specifically are blood pressure drugs called beta blockers or calcium channel blockers, as well as some anti-seizure drugs.
  • Antidepressants are given to prevent both migraines and tension headaches.
  • For cluster headaches, lithium, corticosteroids, and calcium channel blockers may stop headaches from occurring during a cluster episode.
  • Botox - Not just for beauty queens of a “certain age” anymore, botox injections have been shown to prevent migraine in preliminary trials. More research is currently being done to confirm the initial appearance of effectiveness.
  • Analgesics should never be taken to prevent a headache, due to the risk of side effects and rebound headache. These drugs should only be used as a treatment!

Natural Remedies to Prevent Headaches

As is true with medical methods of preventing headaches, many natural methods that treat headaches will also prevent them if used on a daily basis. For example, a few leaves a day of feverfew has been shown to prevent migraines as well as treat them. Additionally, ginger and gingko biloba may act as a preventative for headaches. Regular visits to an acupuncturist also seem to help in many cases.

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One example of a supplement that does not treat headaches but does prevent them is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s natural clock. Many cluster headache sufferers have a low level of the hormone, and melatonin seems to help prevent cluster headaches from occurring. However, it will not stop a cluster headache that is already in progress.

Keeping a Headache Diary

Keeping a headache diary is perhaps the most important part of any prevention routine. A “headache diary” will allow you to keep track of your headaches and discover what triggers them.

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For example, try to remember what you ate or drank the last time you had a headache. What was the weather like? Did anything stressful happen that day? Chances are, you don’t remember anymore, even if it was just a few days ago.

A headache diary is crucial because it allows you to write down all of the possible factors that could have triggered your headache. Then, you can begin looking for patterns until you isolate your own personal headache triggers.

Start by comparing your headache diary entry with the common triggers for the type of headache you are experiencing. If your headaches don’t seem to correlate with any of the triggers mentioned in the book, simply start looking for patterns. Look at your entry and for every day that you had a headache, think: What does today have in common with last time I had a headache?

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If your headache triggers turn out to be something that’s easily avoided, such as a certain type of food, you can consider cutting the trigger out of your life completely.

Some triggers, of course, will be uncontrollable factors like stress, or the weather. While you cannot hope to avoid these types of factors completely, once you realize that they are setting off headaches you can take preventative steps as soon as you are exposed to the trigger.

To help you get started on your diary, here is an example of a sample page:

Date and Time

Warning signs/Aura

Foods eaten today


Stress level, emotional state

Hours slept last night

Daily activities leading up to headache

Duration of headache

Once you understand what causes a headache, it is often much easier to treat and prevent. Hopefully, this book has given you the knowledge you need to manage your headaches and improve your quality of life!

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