Managing Headaches Without Pain Medication

3. Women should maintain normal menstrual periods (they may need the help of a physician).

4. Eat meals at the same time every day -- don't delay meals for very long and don't skip meals.

5. Avoid foods likely to provoke headache. Patients can obtain food lists from the American Council on Headache Education, Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute and the American Headache Foundation.

6. Exercise moderately, within your health parameters.

7. For neck pain, try a "neck pillow."

8. If jaw tenderness or bruxism is a problem, obtain a well-fitted bite splint.

9. Biofeedback and stress management techniques can be very helpful for many patients.

10. Avoid "shift" work. Headache patients do poorly when they do not go to bed when it's dark and wake up when it's light.

11. Stop smoking or breathing ambient smoke.

12. At first sign of a headache, apply ice to the top of the head or temples, and heat to the neck.

13. Limit the use of painkillers or migraine-specific acute medications to no more than two times a week.

14. Avoid needless stress whenever possible; if you cannot avoid stress, then obtain professional help to cope with the stress.

15. Avoid extremes in everything. Migraine-prone patients do not adapt well to extremes.

16. If headaches don't go away, try to induce sleep.

17. If you have migraine, do not nap during the day.

18. Avoid excessive caffeine. A cup or two of coffee a day is OK, though.

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