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3 Common Headache Triggers You May Not Have Known About

Everyone has had a headache at least once in their lives. Some are unfortunate enough to experience them on a regular basis. This is why over-the-counter pain medications are constantly present in almost all bathroom medicine cabinets. Most headaches are harmless. Annoying, irritating, and sometimes debilitating, yes, but harmless. However, there are cases where the headaches are caused by an underlying condition or illness. This is one of the reasons why it is important to see a doctor if one is experiencing chronic headaches. Another advantage of getting diagnosed is that people can manage their headaches better if they know what’s causing them.

For a lot of people, headaches occur after they’ve eaten or breathed in something. It can also occur after certain activities people perform. These are called headache triggers because they trigger a reaction in our body that causes the headaches. Not all headache triggers apply to everyone who experiences a headache which is why it is important to identify which of these factors apply to us in order to effectively prevent these painful episodes from happening. Here are some examples of common headache triggers most people don’t know about.

  • Food containing tyramine or nitrates. These chemicals have been known to cause headaches, but what people don’t know is that they’re found in some of the most common foods people consume every day. Tyramine is present in a lot of plant and animal food products such as tap beer, processed soy products like soy sauce, and aged food and beverages such as wine, cheese, and aged meats. The headaches caused by tyramine were once referred to as “The Cheese Effect” as it was first observed in patients who experience headaches after eating cheese. Nitrates are also common in fruits, vegetables and sometimes even drinking water, but the levels they contain are not enough to trigger a headache. On the other hand, the addition of nitrates to processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and sausages is done to help lengthen the product’s shelf life, but it also has been known to trigger headaches in some people.


  • Sex and other strenuous activities. Regular exercise and an adequate sex life are good for one’s health. Unfortunately, there are those who suffer from exertion headaches. It’s usually not a big deal and can be treated by taking over-the-counter drugs, but if you experience severe or intense headaches during or after exercise or sexual intercourse, it’s best to see a doctor to make sure that a tumor is not causing the pain.


  • Overmedicating. A person’s first instinct when they feel any form of pain is to rummage through their medicine cabinets for something to relieve the pain. While this may work for most types of headaches, there are those that may take a little bit more to relieve. When people take over-the-counter pain medication for a prolonged period of time, this can lead to what doctors call a “rebound headache”. The best way to avoid this is to have the headaches properly diagnosed by a doctor in order to treat the headaches properly without overmedicating.

It’s always best to consult a doctor when the headache is recurring or is accompanied by other symptoms. Most of the time the headaches people experience are not dangerous, but it is always better to be safe and know what is causing the headaches in order to treat them better and more efficiently.

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