As a woman who has had her share of headaches, I understand how they can affect your life and even steal your joy. Though everybody gets headaches from time to time, did you know that women are affected more often than men? In fact, out of the nearly 45 million Americans complaining to their doctors about headaches each year, 3 times more of them are women. It is believed that a whopping 18% of women suffer from headaches as opposed to only 6% of men.
That doesn’t mean that all women get consistent headaches, but many women do find them a problem, especially at certain times of the month. This is primarily due to hormonal shifts and the ongoing stresses that women carry. It is important to identify the root cause of headaches to determine how to treat or eradicate them. This means ruling out the scary stuff and peeling back the health layers to discover imbalances and stresses on the body. Here are just a few culprits that plague women frequently.
Stress is one of the most common causes of headaches that affects men as well as women. When you are stressed, the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and scalp tighten. Unfortunately, this can lead to headaches that affect our ability to function. Stress can be sneaky and go unchecked if you are constantly busy. The body is basically trying to get our attention and slow us down. Unfortunately, ignoring these warning signs can lead to chronic problems and worsening health.
If this is the case, it’s important to find ways to relax and reduce stress levels throughout your day. Some women experience tension headaches at work, so resting might be more of a challenge. However, simply doing some neck stretches and breathing exercises can help to relieve this type of headache.
Undiagnosed vision problems that cause eye strain can increase the chances of getting frequent headaches. Because vision usually changes slowly, problems can go unchecked or ignored. If you notice frequent headaches after screen time and activities like reading, I recommend getting an eye exam. An eye doctor can also see into the eye and detect other more serious problems.
If you are worried about wearing glasses, consider contact lenses. Don’t forget to ask your optometrist what types of eyewear can help prevent headaches. You might ask, “which contacts are the best for me?” but make sure they are appropriate for your situation. Some types of eyewear can actually make headaches worse. Contacts, progressive lenses, and bifocals are notorious for causing problems for sensitive women.
We all know that drinking water is important for our health, but many of us still don’t drink enough each day. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches and can actually make migraine attacks more intense. As an easy rule, try to drink at least half your weight in ounces daily. If you need a reminder to drink the right amount, a smart water bottle measures how much you drink and will prompt you if you haven’t had a drink in a while. Increasing hydration could help headaches fairly quickly.
In children, there is not much difference in the frequency of headaches between boys and girls. However, once they reach puberty and start their menstrual cycle, women are more likely to have headaches than men. Before and during menstruation, your body shifts hormone levels, which can increase the chances of headaches and migraines. It’s enough to be dealing with menstrual pain, let alone the addition of cyclical headaches. Ask your doctor if there are any treatments that can help this type of headache condition. Hormone balancing can make a huge improvement for some women.
Although some women find that taking the pill relieves their menstrual headaches, it can also have the opposite effect. The pill affects hormones and can create an imbalance in the body. If you suspect this is the case, speak with your doctor and see if you can switch to a different brand or dosage. Everybody reacts differently to medication, so it might take a few attempts to find the right one.
The season leading up to menopause and through it, hormone shifts- sometimes extreme- can bring about a long list of symptoms. Though fatigue and hot flashes are the most common and extremely annoying, headaches can be a big problem if they are severe. Stress can also be a trigger for menopausal headaches, so relaxation and rest techniques are important.
They can also be triggered by bad sleep patterns, hunger, bright lights, and certain foods and drinks. It’s important that you keep a record of your headaches in order to discover the triggers and root causes. In some cases, bio-identical hormone replacement can help menopause symptoms. Additionally, some doctors prescribe medication or recommend herbal supplements to help women get through severe symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and mood swings.
Do the best you can to identify potential headache triggers and make lifestyle changes as you can. In most cases, relief can be found by eliminating such triggers and investigating causes. In doing so, you are also likely to improve your overall health and well-being. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider about changes in your symptoms and ones that are ongoing.
**** This post is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Women’s lifelink, it’s owners, administrators, contributors, affiliates, vendors, authors, and editors do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or improve any condition or disease.