Got Frequent Headaches?
Allergies Could Be the Cause
Not all allergy sufferers have frequent headaches, but many do. Over the years,
a number of scientific studies have shown a link between allergies and
headaches. People with allergies tend to have more headaches in general and some
occur frequently enough to be described as persistent.
Food allergies, in particular, are
often to blame, according to the studies. An ingredient found in many processed,
packaged and prepared foods is known to be a common trigger for food-allergy
related headaches. The ingredient is monosodium glutamate or MSG. It is often
found in soy sauce and is believed to be the reason that many people get
headaches after eating Chinese food.
Tyramine is another common cause
of allergy-related headaches. It’s not an ingredient you can look for on a
package label. It is a naturally occurring compound found in many cured,
fermented, pickled and smoked foods. Examples of foods that may be sources of
tyramine include cheeses, sour cream, soy sauce, alcoholic beverages and most
kinds of pork.
Phenylethylamine is a naturally
occurring compound similar to tyramine that is known to trigger allergy-related
headaches. The compound occurs in many foods but usually in quantities too small
to cause a problem. Chocolates and products containing chocolate may contain a
high enough concentration to cause an allergy-sufferer to have a headache.
Aspartame, an artificial
sweetener, has been shown in recent studies to cause headaches in many people.
Not all of the tested subjects were allergy sufferers. Apparently there is
something about aspartame that can cause anyone to have a headache. Aspartame is
something you can look for on a label of ingredients and try to avoid.
Headaches caused by food allergies
may be managed or avoided. The best advice is to limit or avoid foods that cause
the reaction. Keeping a food diary can help you determine which foods cause you
to have a headache. Most allergy sufferers find that only some of the compounds
mentioned above are triggers. For instance, you might have to avoid MSG but not
cheeses or other foods that are sources of tyramine.
You can use antihistamines and/or
over-the-counter pain relievers to manage a headache when one does occur.
Products designed specifically for migraines may be most effective but some
contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine can actually cause a headache.
People with allergies to airborne
substances may also suffer from frequent headaches. In this case, the headache
is caused by inflammation and excess mucus in the sinuses. The inflammation and
mucus cause swelling that puts pressure on the temples and around the eyes. When
the pain is experienced primarily around the eyes and at the temples, it is
usually a sinus headache.
Common airborne allergens include
pollen, dust and pet dander. It may be more difficult to avoid these airborne
allergens than to avoid food allergens. In the home, the use of an air purifier
or filter may help. Outdoors, it may be helpful to wear a mask. For example, you
might want to wear a dust mask when mowing the grass.
Anti-inflammatory meds like
ibuprofen can be useful for relieving the pressure and the pain. Antihistamines
can be useful for reducing the mucus, although antihistamines should be used in
moderation. Side effects are associated with their use. Nasal sprays may be more
effective than antihistamines for expelling excess mucus, but again they should
be used in moderation.
When you are taking any kind of
medication, you should increase your intake of pure fluids, preferably clear
liquids. Increasing fluid intake also helps to thin the mucus, which is helpful
whether or not you are taking medications. You might find that a nice tall glass
of water and a short break will have you feeling like yourself again.
Wishing you the best of health