Weekly Wellness: Help! I have a headache!
COLUMBIA - We've all uttered the phrase from time to time (some of us more frequently than others): "I have a headache." Headaches are no fun and there are many contributing factors. There is so much information available about headaches that I almost got a headache reading everything I found. Here's a quick headache lesson for you:
Headaches are generally classified by cause (primary or secondary). A primary headache is caused by over activity or problems with pain-sensitive structures in your head.
The most common primary headaches are cluster headache; migraine (with and without aura); tension headache; and Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia (TAC).
Although generally considered primary, each could be a symptom of an underlying disease. They include: chronic daily headaches; cough headaches; exercise headaches; sex headaches.
Some primary headaches can be triggered by lifestyle factors, including: alcohol, particularly red wine; certain foods (i.e. processed meats that contain nitrates); changes in sleep or lack of sleep; poor posture; skipped meals; and stress.
A secondary headache is a symptom of something else that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Possible causes of secondary headaches include: acute sinusitis; concussion; dehydration; dental problems; ear infection; hangover; high blood pressure (hypertension); or flu. Or can go into even more serious issues like stroke, brain tumors, etc.
If you're certain that your headaches are not secondary (and you have nothing serious to be concerned about), there might be some food-related help to deal with your primary headache. I'm someone who likes to avoid popping pills whenever possible so I'll try a food-cure any day before reaching for the little plastic bottle.
Potato: Foods high in potassium have proven to help alleviate bad headaches, and a baked potato with its skin offers up to 600 mg.
Bananas: Potassium and magnesium are packed into this little helpful treat. Magnesium's calming effects are a huge help when trying to alleviate an achy head.
Watermelon: If your primary headache is due to dehydration, a water-rich fruit like watermelon can give you a huge boost and also serves as a solid source of potassium and magnesium!
Pineapple: Fresh pineapple contains the natural enzyme bromelain, which has been linked for centuries as a form of natural pain relief. It also boasts anti-inflammatory properties that can help too.
Cucumber: In the same vein as watermelon, cucumber can help cut dehydration out of the picture. Composed of 95 percent water, the highly hydrating cucumber is a perfect option for a fresh, headache-fighting snack.