Illustration by Dan Page
You know what's a headache? Headaches. More than 45 million Americans suffer from them regularly; 36 million routinely battle migraines (which affect three times as many women as men, most often between the ages of 20 and 45). But heads up: Relief is at hand if you can pinpoint the source of your pain.
1. Tension ThrobberFeels like...you're wearing a too-tight headband around your forehead.
The Cause: Stress. Tension headaches, which are the most widely experienced kind, may be triggered by an imbalance in neurotransmitters, including serotonin and norepinephrine, says neurologist Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, director of the University of California, San Francisco Headache Center.
The Cure: These headaches can respond well to over-the-counter pain medication or even to relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and napping.
2. Hunger HeadacheFeels like...head pain plus stomach pangs.
The Cause: A drop in blood sugar when you skip meals may starve the brain of glucose, its primary fuel, according to Kylene Guerra, dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.
The Cure: Guerra recommends eating a small, balanced meal, like half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, every four hours to keep blood sugar levels stable.
3. Ponytail PounderFeels like...pain at the site of your ponytail holder that may radiate to your head or neck.
The Cause: Pulling your hair back too tightly can put strain on the muscles and tissue under your scalp, causing an extracranial headache (meaning it's not brought on by anything in the skull), according to a study from the City of London Migraine Clinic.
The Cure: Let your hair down!
Next: Remedies for infrequent migraines
We Hear You!