Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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Millions of people have chronic headaches.
TAMI MARSHALL, HAS CHRONIC HEADACHES: "IT WOULD FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY WAS POUNDING INSIDE MY HEAD AND IT WOULD FEEL LIKE THEY HAD A VICE AND THEY WERE JUST TURNING AND TURNING."
Headaches are so common and can happen for so many reasons that getting to the root of the problem can be difficult.
Neurologist Dr. David Buchholz offers a new approach in "Heal Your Headache: The 1, 2, 3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain."
He says virtually all headaches are forms of migraine.
DR. DAVID BUCHHOLZ, NEUROLOGIST: "AND THIS CAN BE TO VARYING DEGREES. SO IF THIS MECHANISM IS REVVED UP ALL THE WAY YOU HAVE TERRIBLE BLOOD VESSEL SWELLING, AWFUL PAIN, WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK OF AS A MIGRAINE. BUT VERY COMMONLY THIS MECHANISM IS ONLY PARTIALLY ACTIVATED, CAUSING MILD TO MODERATE BLOOD VESSEL SWELLING AND PAIN, WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK OF AS YOUR TENSION AND SINUS HEADACHE."
The first step-- avoid quick fix medications. They offer relief, but could make your next headache more likely.
"THEY CAUSE A REBOUND EFFECT. SO THIS CREATES A VICIOUS CYCLE. YOU HAVE A CERTAIN LEVEL OF HEADACHES FOR WHICH YOU TAKE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF THESE QUICK FIX MEDICATIONS. THOSE MEDICATIONS BEGET MORE HEADACHES SO YOU TAKE MORE OF THE DRUGS AND SO ON, HAVING ENDLESS HEADACHES AND ESCALATING DRUG USE."
Next, avoid things that trigger your headaches.
"EACH ONE OF US HAS A CERTAIN THRESHOLD AT WHICH HEADACHES WILL OCCUR IF OUR STACK OF TRIGGERS CROSSES THAT LINE. SO YOU MAY HAVE A CERTAIN TRIGGER LOAD RELATED TO THE WEATHER, AND STRESS AND HORMONES, BUT IF YOU ADD TO THAT WITH THE DIETARY ITEMS, YOU'RE GOING TO WIND UP WITH HEADACHES."
When that's not enough, he recommends daily medication to block the migraine mechanism and prevent headaches.
A simple plan he says works very well.
"THEY ALMOST ALL IMPROVE BY FINALLY DOING WHAT THEY CAN TO CONTROL THEIR HEADACHES."
etting to the source of headaches can be tricky.
Caffeine, chocolate, monosodium glutimate, and processed meats with nitrites are common food triggers.
But some people have trouble with citrus fruits, bananas, even yogurt.
What's more, some foods can trigger a headache a day or two after you've eaten them.