su rprise rea­sons your head hurts

There are some un­usual causes of head pain. Here are the reme­dies to tackle them...

Essentials (South Africa) - - CONTENTS NOVEMBER 2018 -

Headaches are a fairly com­mon ail­ment, af­fect­ing a stag­ger­ing nine mil­lion South Africans, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics re­leased by The Headache Clinic – with women more likely to be af­fected than men. Most of us tend to brush off reg­u­lar headaches as the re­sult of ev­ery­day stress but your diet, sleep­ing pat­terns and your sex life could be to blame for your mi­graines – and could even sig­nal some­thing more se­ri­ous if left unchecked.

‘ The two most com­mon headache trig­gers are de­hy­dra­tion and low blood sugar – usu­ally caused by go­ing for too long with­out eat­ing,’ ex­plains headache spe­cial­ist Pro­fes­sor Anne MacGre­gor.

FIX IT Drink lots of wa­ter. In a study pub­lished in the Euro­peanJour­nalof Neu­rol­ogy, headache suf­fer­ers who drank an ad­di­tional 1,5 litres of wa­ter a day for 12 weeks dra­mat­i­cally re­duced their num­ber of headaches. And ideally, eat reg­u­lar meals to avoid low blood sugar. If you’re try­ing to lose weight by in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing, make sure your fast days aren’t con­sec­u­tive. 3. The WEEKE ND Sleep­ing in for just half an hour can trig­ger a week­end headache, par­tic­u­larly in cof­fee ad­dicts. ‘ Be­cause caf­feine af­fects the blood ves­sels in the brain, with­drawal or even a re­duc­tion at the week­ends – ex­ac­er­bated by low blood sugar due to a later break­fast – can cause pain,’ says Prof. MacGre­gor.

FIX IT Re­strict cof­fee in­take to a max­i­mum of four cups a day dur­ing the week and try get­ting up at the same time each day.


If you’re prone to headaches, you could find that grey skies, high hu­mid­ity, ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and storms can all bring on head pain. The pres­sure changes that cause weather changes are also thought to trig­ger chem­i­cal changes in the brain, ir­ri­tat­ing the nerves and lead­ing to a headache for some peo­ple. Changes in baro­met­ric pres­sure trig­gered pain in 73% of mi­graine suf­fer­ers, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the US Na­tional Headache Foun­da­tion. FIX IT Ob­vi­ously there’s noth­ing you can do to change the weather, but by look­ing at the fore­cast you can pre­dict when you’re likely to have a headache and take a pre­ven­tive painkiller in ad­vance.


Pony­tails, plaits, chignons, tight-fit­ting hats and Alice bands can all be the cause of headaches if the hair is pulled back tightly. The hair shaft it­self doesn’t feel any pain, but the pulling sen­sa­tion can strain the sen­si­tive nerves in your scalp. FIX IT Just don’t tie your hair up – or back – too tightly!


Tra­di­tion­ally used as an ex­cuse to avoid sex, a headache can ac­tu­ally be a com­mon side ef­fect of love mak­ing. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port, headaches as­so­ci­ated with sex­ual ac­tiv­ity af­fect both men and women. ‘ The usual com­plaint is of a dull ache in the back of the head, which grad­u­ally in­ten­si­fies as sex­ual ex­cite­ment in­creases. But some peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence a sud­den, ex­plo­sive and pierc­ing headache at or­gasm that lasts up to half an hour,’ ex­plains Prof. MacGre­gor.

FIX IT Take a cou­ple of parac­eta­mol 30 min­utes be­fore in­ter­course. Although usu­ally harm­less, coital headaches should al­ways be checked out as, oc­ca­sion­ally, they can re­sult from an aneurysm. See your GP to have it looked into, or if you have any new, or sud­den-on­set headaches.


Anger makes the mus­cles in the back of your head and neck tense, which can lead to a ten­sion headache. You also take short breaths when you’re feel­ing anx­ious, and the less oxy­gen you take in, the more blood ves­sels con­strict, caus­ing head pain.

FIX IT When you start to feel an­gry, try breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and out through your mouth to re­lax your head and shoul­der mus­cles. Learn cop­ing strate­gies, such as let­ting go of things that are be­yond your con­trol.

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