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February 2011



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First Published Thu 23 Dec, 2010 08:00 am GMT

Everyone knows that alcohol and colds can give you a headache, but what else can act as a trigger? We reveal five surprising triggers which may be behind your headache.

Teeth grinding

If you suffer from morning headaches, your teeth might be to blame! People who grind or clench their teeth – known as bruxism – are three times more likely to suffer headaches than the rest of us.

As most grinding takes place while you are asleep, you may not be aware you are doing it. Constantly grinding your teeth can cause the facial and neck muscles to tense, making a headache more likely.

Other tell-tale signs of teeth grinding include jaw pain in the morning, facial and neck pain, worn away tooth enamel and sensitive teeth caused by roots being exposed as the gum recedes.

If you think teeth grinding may be your headache trigger, then see your dentist as soon as you can. They can supply you with a mouth guard which can help to save your teeth and ease the headache.

The week-end lie in

People working flat out Monday to Friday may find themselves with a pounding headache come late Saturday morning.

This can happen when stress hormones circulating in the blood drop when the body suddenly goes into relaxation mode. This causes a rapid release of neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers which cause the blood vessels to constrict and dilate, leading to a headache.

So try to fit in some kind of relaxation or exercise into your busy schedule during the week rather than waiting for the weekend. And limit your sleep to no more than eight hours. Too much sleep is also linked to headaches.

Your computer

Poor posture can cause the muscles of your upper back, neck and shoulders to tense, which increases your chances of getting a headache.

Sitting in a slouched position for hours at a time or sitting with your head jutted forward should be avoided.

Looking at a computer screen means the eyes have to focus at short distances, which requires the most effort by our eye muscles, and can cause eyestrain as well as headache.

So take regular breaks from working at the computer and move around. Adjust your compute screen so that it’s 20 to 30 inches away from your eyes and positioned at eye level. Avoid glare by making sure there is no direct sunlight on the computer screen.

Try to use a headset rather than a phone when sitting at a computer. Cradling a phone between your head and shoulder will only increase muscle strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

Your perfume

Perfumes are designed to stimulate the brain. When exposed to the air, perfume evaporates and the chemicals within activate nerve cells in the nose, which send signals to the brain. Unfortunately for some sensitive souls, these signals are strong enough to cause headache and migraines.

Household cleaners, fragrance air fresheners, soaps and shampoos can all have the same effect.

Ensure that your home and place of work are well ventilated, with a good supply of fresh air to help minimise your exposure to the offending fragrance. Make a point of letting work colleagues know how fragrances affect you, especially if they’re the type who like to “splash it all over!”

One remedy claims that you can fight smells with smells – apply a small drop of peppermint oil to your forehead – a study suggested that this can work as well as painkillers for a smell induced headache.


Tense, nervous headache? Are you reaching for painkillers? Perhaps you should stop and think again, because taking pain medication too often can itself trigger headaches.

Around one in ten people are thought to suffer from “rebound” headaches caused by taking too many over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, codeine and paracetamol.

Typically, rebound headaches happen after taking painkillers a few times a week for long periods of time. During this period, the headaches usually become more frequent and more painkillers are taken to deal with them and so a cycle is established.

If this sounds like you, then see your GP. They will advise you on how to come off the painkillers if necessary.

Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, you should not take painkillers for headaches more than twice a week or two days in a row.

Always should always go to your GP if you feel you need to regularly use OTC medicines. You could have an underlying health condition, so it’s best to get it checked out.

Source: http://uk.health.lifestyle.yahoo.net/Five-suprising-things-which-trigger-headaches.htm

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