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Headaches: Beyond the Hangover

Everyone knows too much alcohol can leave your head throbbing, but other common headache triggers may surprise you:

Aged cheeses

Blue cheese, cheddar, Parmesan and Swiss contain high amounts of tyramine, a known headache trigger.


According to the National Headache Foundation, all nuts can cause headaches because they’re also high in tyramine.


If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to skip this dessert.


Food additives such as nitrates and MSG can dilate blood vessels and cause headaches; found in cured and processed meats and packaged foods.

Skipping meals

Resulting low blood sugar levels are the culprit.


Strong smells, even pleasant ones, can cause headaches; examples include paint, smoke, perfume and even fresh flowers.


Grinding your teeth at night can leave you with a dull ache.


Wearing your hair back in a ponytail can trigger and worsen headaches.


It’s true. Sex can cause headaches due to an increase in blood pressure and muscle tension in the head and neck.

When to seek care

Schedule a check-up if your headaches are:

  • Frequent
  • Long-lasting, more than a few days
  • Sudden or severe 
  • Preceded by a head injury
  • Experienced with fever, stiff neck, seizures, numbness, blurred vision or dizziness, severe nausea, shortness of breath or confusion
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