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Health And Family

How to prevent headaches: Lifestyle choices that make a big difference

Diana Uichanco - Philstar.com
How to prevent headaches: Lifestyle choices that make a big difference
Neurology resident Dr. Jon Stewart Dy pointed out that there are simple things we can do on our own to avoid headaches
Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — Going to the doctor’s clinic is not what anyone would call “fun”; besides, it entails expenses —  what with fees, medication, tests and other procedures that may be required in the course of treatment. 

So the oft-used “bawal magkasakit” line ought to be more than an occasional reminder said in jest, particularly in these times when a trip to the hospital can mean exposure to dreaded viruses. 

Neurology resident Dr. Jon Stewart Dy pointed out that there are simple things we can do on our own to avoid headaches — vital but usually overlooked steps that, if taken as part of one’s lifestyle, would boost overall wellness and arrest if not diminish the root causes of headaches:

Refrain from smoking

Why? “Nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarettes, causes constricting of blood vessels in the brain, thereby hampering the proper flow of blood to the brain,” he explained.

Nicotine may also lead to thickening of the blood, he added. What’s more, exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke is enough to result in headaches in the other person as well — not to mention more serious health consequences.

Avoid excessive drinking of coffee and liquor

Since caffeine causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain, this may explain why a lot of people get a headache after they’ve consumed too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

“Learn not to exceed two cups of coffee a day,” Dr. Dy said.

If you choose to eliminate coffee from your diet altogether, do it gradually instead of quitting cold turkey. An abrupt stop to your previously regular intake can lead to unpleasant caffeine withdrawal.

Get enough sleep

The need for adequate sleep has probably never been emphasized more than in the past year, when its role in boosting the immune system was touted as part of anti-covid ammunition. With or without a pandemic, however, the simple truth is that the human body needs adequate rest to recover from the daily grind. Without it, the body weakens and becomes susceptible to various unhealthy conditions.

Haven’t we heard the usual “Ang sakit ng ulo ko. Napuyat kasi ako eh” enough? So, avoid turning in late. Getting at least eight hours of shut-eye every night is the doctor’s recommendation.

Do physical exercises

Moving about helps prevent a lot of undesired conditions: pain in the limbs, stiff shoulders, and a host of other aches. In other words, just like the benefits of adequate sleep, regular physical exercise is good for overall health.

The specific kind of exercise to be done, Dr. Dy pointed out, will depend on the cause of the headache that a person is experiencing. 

“Eat at the proper time,” he added. “And avoid stress! Stress is usually the cause of headaches in many cases.”

"AnggULO: A lay forum on headache" was one of the events organized in celebration of St. Luke's Medical Center’s 118th anniversary and the Institute for Neurosciences’ 29th anniversary. 

RELATED: LIST: Different kinds of headaches, causes, basic treatment

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