Headaches might just be the most oppressive common malady there is. About 40 percent of us routinely suffer ordinary tension-type headaches, which range from the sensation of a tightening band to outright pounding around the head. Ninety-three percent have these headaches at least once or twice a year.
It gets worse for the additional 50 million Americans who endure migraines, which pulse and throb relentlessly on one side of the brain. Accompanied by nausea, dizziness, numbness, neck pain and a host of other physical symptoms - even hallucinations - migraines can be mild or can grind life to a halt for hours or days at a time. The most severe migraines keep people home, in darkened bedrooms, and unable to drive, withstand the light of day, work or care for their kids. About 6 million people suffer migraines every day of their lives.
A perfect cure for headaches may not be within our grasp anytime soon. But by embracing the wide range of treatments available now - from avoiding triggers and taking supplements to trying medical interventions when warranted - all but the most intractable headaches can be controlled.
Dietary Triggers: Top 10 List
David Buchholz, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, points to the top 10 migraine triggers found in food:
Caffeine. Found in coffee, tea, colas and certain other sodas. Going off caffeine suddenly can also trigger headaches.
Chocolate. Anything with cocoa. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which may cause blood vessels to expand and contract.
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