Pain Triggers

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Pain Trigger: Cheese

Cheese lovers, take note – your favorite food may be the reason for all those headaches. Aged cheese, such as blue cheese, brie, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, parmesan and Swiss, contain a substance called tyramine. This notorious headache trigger is also found in some processed meats and beverages.

Solution: Keep a food diary to help spot links between foods and headaches, so you’ll know what to avoid.

Pain Trigger: Your Hairdo

A tight ponytail may trigger a headache, especially if you’re prone to migraines. Some migraine sufferers are more sensitive to sensations that wouldn’t bother others, such as a tight hat, headband, bun, or braids.

Solution: Wear your hair down and skip the hat.

Pain Trigger: Strong Smells

Doctors aren’t sure why, but strong smells are another common migraine trigger. This can include obnoxious odors, such as paint and smoke. But pleasant scents, including perfume and fresh flowers, can also be a problem.

Solution: Identify which smells spark your headaches and try to avoid them.

Pain Trigger: Skipping Meals

Skipping meals causes your blood sugar to dip. In some people, this can trigger a massive headache before you even realize you’re hungry.

Solution: Eat nutritious foods regularly throughout the day. Opt for snacks that combine protein and whole grains, such as peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers.

Pain Trigger: Your Workstation

If you spend many hours a day at your desk or workstation, give some thought to the setup. A poorly positioned chair can cause you to slouch forward, straining the back and neck. A monitor that’s too low or too high will also strain the neck.

Solution: Place your monitor with the top of the screen at eye level. Position your chair so that you are sitting straight with your feet on the floor. Use a cushion to support the lower back if needed.

Pain Trigger: Stress

Stress contributes to a vast array of aches and pains. Many people tighten the back muscles when anxious, leading to chronic back pain. Most tension headaches stem from stress. And stress may play a role in teeth grinding, leading to jaw pain.

Solution: Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.

When to See the Doctor About Pain

Seek immediate medical attention if you have:

  • Chest pain
  • A severe headache and/or stiff neck
  • Pain related to an injury
  • Pain accompanied by weakness or numbness

Any chronic pain should also be evaluated by a doctor, especially if it interferes with work, hobbies or sleep.

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