By Heidi Zwart

Do you suffer from chronic headaches? It’s normal to experience an occasional headache, but if you experience them more regularly, you may be suffering from a chronic condition that requires attention. While the cause of chronic headaches may be difficult to pinpoint, one thing is for sure – you just want relief.

Your first step if you are experiencing ongoing or sudden onset of physical pain, is to consult with your doctor. This crucial step will help rule out any serious medical condition. Because there are many kinds of headaches, be prepared to describe your symptoms and experience in as much detail as possible to help with a diagnosis and treatment.

Once you’ve taken that step, it’s time to consider additional causes of chronic headaches. According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, the following risk factors may cause chronic headaches:

  • Female
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Obesity
  • Snoring
  • Overuse of caffeine
  • Overuse of headache medication
  • Other chronic pain conditions

Notice that many of these risk factors can be reversed with changes to your lifestyle. Mood disturbances, excess weight, sleep disruption, and misuse of medication (including caffeine) encompass many of the causes of chronic headaches. 

To combat these factors, consider these adjustments in your routine to relieve the chronic pain.

Make Sleep a Priority

If you are sleeping less than 7-8 hours each night, make this your first priority. Your body needs sleep to fully recover and restore itself. If you snore, consult with your doctor about treatment options. 

Move Daily  

To offset the pain and pressure points after hours of sitting, get your body moving more often. Exercise reduces stress and improves your mood. Non-intense movement like walking outside (when possible) is an enjoyable sensory experience after a long day indoors. 

Boost Your Nutrition

Food, or lack of food, can contribute to chronic headaches. Going too long between meals or skipping them altogether can lead to a headache. If you are eating regularly but are choosing high sodium, processed foods you may also trigger a headache. Stick to a consistent eating schedule and choose whole foods as often as possible. 

Reduce Caffeine

While caffeine may provide short-term relief for some types of headaches, overuse may have the opposite effect. If you’re consuming caffeine beyond the early afternoon hours, you are also impacting your ability to sleep, so reducing caffeine is a double win. 

Talk it Out

A professional counselor or coach can help alleviate mood disturbances. Talking aloud to a trained people helper can reduce stress and improve your mood. A therapist can also determine if medication is the right path for treatment.

Consult a Doctor

If you suffer from other chronic pain conditions, ask your doctor if that may be triggering your headaches. Check the side effects of any medications you are currently taking to see if that may be contributing to your chronic headaches. Only take prescription medication as directed. 

While the question of what causes chronic headaches can not be given a simple answer, taking action on some of these possible solutions may offer you reprieve from your pain.