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  • 4 Types of Headaches You Can (Possibly) Avoid

    Nobody enjoys having a headache and if we knew one was coming, we’d probably do what we could to prevent it. So, with that in mind, I bring you 4 types of headaches that you can possibly avoid.

    Allergy Headaches*

    These headaches usually manifest as generalized head pain with nasal congestion and watery eyes in response to seasonal and environmental allergies. There is disagreement among headache specialists as to whether allergy headaches are really just sinus headaches and also whether sinus headaches are common or rare or most likely a misclassified migraine headache. Sigh.

    To help prevent an allergy headache: Reduce or eliminate exposure to environmental allergens whenever you can. For those you can’t avoid, see an allergist for treatments to reduce and eventually, (hopefully) eliminate your allergic response altogether.

    hand holding coffee cup while coffee is being poured into it

    Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches*/**

    These are usually a throbbing headache caused by changes in the blood vessels in response to a marked drop in caffeine level in the body.

    To prevent caffeine withdrawal headaches: The American Migraine foundation suggests limiting caffeine intake to 200mg/day or less to avoid getting a caffeine withdrawal headache. If you already consume more than that, you’ll want to slowly decrease the amount of caffeine you consume until it’s under the 200mg/day threshold.

    bottle of water being poured into glass

    Dehydration Headache***

    These headaches can occur anywhere in the head (but not the neck) in response to mild to moderate dehydration. One pretty clear sign that it might be a dehydration headache is if you’re thirsty. A few other things to look for are dark colored urine, infrequent urination, and/or dizziness upon standing.

    To prevent dehydration headaches: Drink enough water daily to keep your urine a pale yellow color. How’s that for easy?

    hand holding pills with lots of pills in the background

    Medication Overuse Headache**

    Formerly called rebound headaches, these headaches are a result of taking pain medication, even over the counter (OTC) meds like ibuprofen. Research suggests that using pain medication frequently can lower your threshold for experiencing pain, and reinforce the pathways that process pain.

    To prevent medication overuse headaches: Many doctors advise limiting over the counter (OTC) pain relievers to 15 days per month or less and limiting stronger drugs like combination drugs, triptans, and opioids to 10 days per month. If you need relief more often than that, consult your doctor for advice on how to keep your headache pain under control without triggering an overuse headache.
    By the way, you’re at high risk for this type of headache if you have a history of chronic headaches or frequently use medications to treat headaches.

    Sadly, not everyone who gets one of these three types of headaches can prevent them. A few of the reasons for this might be:

    • Your allergy may be too severe or you may have an undiscovered allergy.
    • There may be hidden sources of caffeine in some of the foods you eat or you may be more sensitive to it than most.
    • You may have a lower tolerance for pain than others or you may have experienced so much pain in your life (or taken so many pain relievers) that your nervous system has become hypersensitive to it.

    That said, it’s always worth a shot to try to prevent these headaches when you can. When you can’t, it’s worth talking to your family doctor or a specialist about your options.