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How can learning about headaches help me manage them?

Wellness programs, often sponsored by health clinics or hospitals, aim to teach headache sufferers healthy living habits. Instruction includes topics such as diet, nutrition and exercise. Participants are encouraged to stop smoking and to sleep for approximately 7 to 8 hours each night.

Programs encourage participants to identify headache triggers, for example, menstruation, prolonged overexertion, environmental changes and excessive stimuli—glare, noise, odors and lights. Participants are encouraged to eliminate, when possible, other triggers: alcohol, fatty foods and foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrites (hot dogs and other prepared meat).

Wellness programs educate headache sufferers as to which medications cause headaches and should be avoided. Some of the medications to be avoided include the following:

  • nitrates, or nitroglycerin, used to treat coronary artery disease
  • theophylline derivatives, used to treat asthma
  • reserpine, used to treat high blood pressure
  • nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure
  • indomethacin, which is prescribed as a pain medication
  • cimetadine, used to relieve acid indigestion
  • birth control pills (oral contraceptives)
  • drugs used in hormone replacement therapy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.