Hidden causes of headache pain

- Your head is throbbing, but why?  

Emory internist Dr. Sharon Bergquist says there are a lot of hidden headache triggers out there, starting with that smartphone in your hand. 

"The first is just posture," Dr. Bergquist says.  "I think a lot of people are spending more and more time on electronic devices, and most of that time is spent looking down."

That creates tension on the neck muscles, she says, which can lead to headaches."

If your computer screen at work is too high, or too low, that can also lead to posture problems, and headaches.

"The neck likes to be aligned in a very neutral position, just looking straight ahead," Bergquist says.   "If you spend hours looking down or up, you can strain the muscles."

Another reason why you could be hurting?  

You're not drinking enough water, and are dehydrated.

If you find yourself waking up with throbbing head, you may have allergies, or you may not be getting enough sleep, Bergquist says.

But regularly overloading on caffeine can be problematic, too.

"Caffeine can help a headache," she says.  "But, as it gets out of your system, it can actually cause a (withdrawal) headache."

And Dr. Bergquist says taking headache medication too often can trigger rebound headaches. 

If you're taking a pain medication at least twice a week, you may be having rebound headaches.

"And there's really no easy way to stop rebound headaches," she says.  "You have to stop taking the medications, and it takes about two months to notice the benefit from it.  So you've got to kind of tough it out."

The problem can also be something you're eating, or that glass of red wine in your hand.

And a gripping headache is one of the few warning signs of very high blood pressure.

So, how can you figure out which one of these triggers is causing your headache?

Try keeping track of your headaches.

"Sometimes keeping a headache diary is helpful, to make the association between what you ate and what you did, to try to do the detective work and figure out what is causing your headache," Dr. Bergquist says.

 

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