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About 50% of adults have experienced headaches within the past year, according to the World Health Organization. More recurring issues (15 or more headaches per month) occur in about 4% of the world population.
5 Unexpected Causes of Headaches
While most headaches are caused by stress, dehydration, and hormonal changes, there are plenty of other sources to be aware of so you can avoid or prepare for them.
It’s important to note that not all headaches are the same, and some can indicate serious medical issues that require immediate care. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from headaches or migraines that affect your well-being.
Bad weather can cause headaches, and not just by delaying flights or other travel. Severe temperature changes and high– or low–pressure systems that cause storms can make headaches more likely.
Changes in barometric pressure can affect your nasal and sinus cavities, and some researchers hypothesize that these changes can also affect the pressure around your brain and the way your brain perceives pain signals.
While you’re powerless to change the weather, you can prepare for potential headaches by looking at the forecast and having proper protection from the elements.
2. Strong Scents
Exposure to strong scents for a short or long period can cause headaches, even if the smell is pleasant. Some of the most common problem sources are perfume, smoke, candles, paint, automobile exhaust, certain types of flowers, and laundry detergent.
The best way to solve the issue is to avoid strong scented perfumes, colognes, or deodorants, and get some fresh air if you’ve been exposed to a headache-inducing scent.
3. Poor Posture
You’ve heard before that proper posture is a key part of wellness. It can also play into your propensity for headaches.
Slouching in your chair, having a computer monitor or other work tool that’s too high or too low, and lack of lumbar support can build pressure in the back, head, and neck muscles. Improving your posture and optimizing the ergonomics of your work and living spaces can help alleviate tension headaches.
4. Cheese and Other Aged Foods
The aging process can add complex, delicious flavor to many kinds of food and drink, but it also creates a substance called tyramine that may cause headaches for some people.
Tyramine is common in aged cheeses, processed meats, wines, and other alcoholic drinks. In the case of alcohol, its blood-thinning effects can increase blood flow to the brain and intensify headaches. With cured, processed meats, the added nitrates can also cause headaches.
If you find yourself getting headaches while consuming these items or the next morning, consider having them in moderation or cutting them out completely.
5. Poor Air Quality
The quality of the air you breathe can impact your overall wellness, including the chances of developing a headache.
Extremely dry indoor air can remove the moisture that’s necessary in keeping your sinuses and nasal passages healthy, leading to illness and/or headaches. By maintaining a Healthy Humidity level of 40–60%, you can be more comfortable and prevent sinus headaches.
For those who struggle with allergies (like hay fever), headaches can be a seasonal concern. You can’t always control the quality of the air outside, but inside your home you can create a safe haven from allergens with proper fresh air ventilation and air filtration. For maximum air filtration, use an AprilAire whole-house air purifier paired with an AprilAire MERV 16 air filter.