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Headaches: Finding and Avoiding Triggers

Introduction

This topic is about finding and avoiding triggers for tension headaches. For information on finding and avoiding triggers for migraine headaches, see Click here to view an Actionset.Migraines: Finding and Avoiding Triggers.

You can have fewer headaches—and less pain when you do get them—by finding out what things, or triggers, bring on your headaches. You can try to avoid triggers to prevent tension headaches. To prevent headaches:

  • Use a headache diaryheadache diary(What is a PDF document?) to find your triggers.
  • Manage stress.
  • Seek treatment if you have depression or anxiety. They can lead to headaches.
  • Sleep, exercise, and eat on a regular schedule.
  • Practice good posture to reduce neck strain.
  • Reduce eyestrain from computers at work and at home.
  • Don't clench your jaw. Clenching can cause muscle tension in your face.

How do you find and avoid headache triggers?

Finding your headache triggers

Use a headache diaryheadache diary(What is a PDF document?) to find your headache triggers. Keeping track of what you do every day—the foods you eat, the stress you feel, the weather, and other things—can help you find a pattern to your headaches. This helps you know what to avoid to prevent headaches.

Avoiding your headache triggers

To avoid your triggers, try to:

  • Get regular exercise. If you do have a headache while you exercise, write down the activity you were doing. Avoid very hard exercise. This can trigger a tension headache.
  • Keep regular sleep patterns. Sleeping too much or too little can trigger headaches. If you do get a headache when your sleep pattern has changed, this may be a trigger that you can control.
  • Eat healthy food on a regular schedule. This may help prevent headaches. Going a long time without eating can trigger a headache.
  • Get treatment if you have depression and anxiety. These health problems can cause headaches.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Current as of May 2, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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