Fight Off Head Pounders

Hot summer weather can be a major headache catalyst. Here's how to avoid them.

ByABC News
July 20, 2012, 4:23 PM

July 22, 2012— -- Climbing temperatures can cause the blood vessels in your head to expand and press against supersensitive nerve endings, resulting in lots of seasonal noggin pain. Statistically speaking, you're likely no stranger to headaches: As many as 78 percent of people experience the tension kind, and roughly 30 million Americans suffer from migraines. Women are three times more likely to get head pounders than men are, thanks in part to hormone fluctuations that mess with those cranial nerve endings.

More from Women's Health: What's Causing Your Headache?

Experts disagree about why headaches happen, and a cure remains elusive. But you can stop the pain before it starts by sidestepping sneaky triggers.


Passing on breakfast, lunch, or dinner causes your blood-sugar levels to plummet, setting off a total-body chain reaction, says Seymour Diamond, M.D., of the National Headache Foundation. Unbalanced hormones signal your brain's cortex to emit waves that needle those sensitive nerves.

Take Charge: Nosh Often

If you don't have time to cook three big meals a day, try eating six smaller, simpler ones every two to three hours, says Diamond. The key in any case: Eat before you feel hunger pangs, and don't reach for sugary snacks (muffins, carb-loaded shakes) that will put your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride. Drink lots of water--dehydration can also lead to headaches--and keep snacks like almonds and low-fat granola bars in your purse so you always have food handy throughout the day.


Strong odors, even pleasant ones, can be the kick-off for misery in over 40 percent of migraine-prone people, per Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. Certain smells can inflame blood vessels in the nasal passages and activate nerves in the part of the brain that processes sensory information.

Take Charge: Think Pre-Spritz

If you suspect that odors are triggering your head boomers, try going fragrance-free for a few weeks. And don't just lay off the perfume: Hair spray, deodorant, soap, and scented laundry detergent can also cause temple trauma, as can strong-smelling blooms (and, obviously, stuff like cigarette smoke). Reintroduce one fragrance at a time to see if only certain scents set you off.


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