Headaches and How to Help Prevent Them – Advice from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care

headaches-and-how-to-prevent-themWhether it’s a dull, steady pressure that makes you feel like your head is clamped in a vise, or a stabbing, unrelenting pain pounding behind your right eye, a headache can seize your concentration, destroy your mood, and ruin your day. One of the most common reasons that prompts a visit to the doctor, headaches plague over 45 million Americans.

There are several different types of headaches, including migraine, sinus, tension, rebound, aura, cluster, post-traumatic, and more, each of which can have different causes that need to be addressed. Therefore, proper diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Nevertheless, there are some basic steps you can take to prevent headaches, regardless of whether you suffer from them with regular frequency or just occasionally out of the blue. To help keep head pain at bay, the doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care recommend the following:

  • Try to keep your stress level in check. Tension, which can cause muscle stiffness and pain in your shoulders, head, and neck, is the most common cause of headaches. Exercise, yoga, massage, and other relaxation techniques can be very helpful for stress management.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply. When you’re stressed, you naturally take shorter breaths, and you may even hold your breath without realizing it. This results in a decrease in the oxygen being supplied to your blood vessels, which can lead to headaches. To ward off anxiety when you feel it coming on and ensure that you take in adequate oxygen, take a long, deep breath for five seconds, and then blow the air out in five quick huffs. Repeat until you feel better.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. If you rely on your morning cup of joe to get you moving during the workweek, and then sleep in on the weekends, you may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches as a result of the change. Also, if you regularly sleep less than six hours a night, you may develop headaches attributed to insufficient rest.
  • Take regular breaks from technology. Eye strain may result from staring at a bright screen, and flashing images can over-activate your optic nerves, both of which may lead to headaches. Try to step away from the screens for a few minutes every hour.
  • Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat while outside on sunny days. Bright sunlight can trigger headaches, especially migraines. This effect is compounded by glare from sand, water, and other reflective surfaces.
  • Avoid strong scents. Some people are allergic to certain smells, such as cigarette smoke, gasoline, paint, and perfume, which can cause the blood vessels to narrow and elicit cluster headaches. Use a diary to help keep track of your individual triggers.
  • Don’t skip meals. A missed meal can cause your blood sugar to plummet and set off a headache. Regular, well-balanced meals that include protein and complex carbohydrates will serve to stabilize your blood sugar and stave off headaches.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can generate headaches, so be sure to drink plenty of water (not caffeinated beverages, which can actually contribute to dehydration) throughout the day – even if you don’t feel thirsty.

By identifying and avoiding your own set of triggers, you can reduce the severity and frequency of your headaches and be on your way to enjoying a healthier and more joyful life.

For additional wellness tips, please browse our online series of health articles. If you have questions or need to see a doctor, feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and we see patients from Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Brandon, and the rest of the Greater Tampa Bay area.