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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.

Nuts

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

Chocolate

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

Preservatives

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.

Smell

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

Teeth

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

Hair

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

Sex

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