Family Living Focus: Common headache triggers

From Gail Gilman

Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota

Headache sufferers spend a significant amount of money on over-the-counter pain relievers. But prevention costs you nothing. Here are five leading headache culprits to watch out for.


Frayed nerves are a frequent cause of “tension” headaches and may also trigger migraines. Try to take 30 minutes a day just to daydream, meditate or otherwise relax.


Certain foods contain substances that can trigger headache pain. Some examples of those foods are caffeine, red wine, processed meats, chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, lentils, snow peas and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Eye Strain

Concentrating on one object for a long time (such as a computer screen) can cause temporary head pain. To alleviate eye strain, take occasional “eye breaks” by looking out and away from the computer or the book you are reading.


Staying seated for long periods, especially if you are constantly on the phone or hunched over, can tighten muscles and lead to tension headaches. Try the following: Shift position. Stretch once an hour. Stand during phone conversations. Take a lunchtime walk.


Too little or, surprisingly, even too much sleep can bring on headaches. It is best to control your brain’s “clock” by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day – even on weekends.

If you would like more information on “Common Headache Triggers” feel free to contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.


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