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Top tips for coping with headaches

Top tips for coping with headaches

We share some top tips to cope with headaches, a common effect of brain injury.

Here we share some top tips to cope with headaches, from our factsheet Headaches after brain injury, which is available to download below or from our Information library

The factsheet also explains the causes of headaches after brain injury as well as offering information on the different types of headaches commonly experienced after brain injury.

Guidance on the factsheet was kindly provided by Consultant Neurologists Dr Colette Griffin and Dr Bee Eng Ong, who both specialise in headaches after brain injury.

Top tips for coping with headaches

1. Identify triggers

Common triggers include stress, lights, noise, smells, alcohol, weather changes and fatigue. Where possible, try to minimise or avoid your triggers, although try not to become too anxious about completely avoiding things either if something is out of your control.

2. Consider your diet

Be aware that some types of food may trigger migraine headaches, such as chocolate, cheese, citrus fruit and tomatoes. There is no need to completely avoid these foods, but try monitoring how you feel after eating them, or avoid them for a short while to see if it makes any difference.

3. Keep a headache diary

Keep a record of your headaches when you experience them. Make a note of the time and the pain intensity of each headache, using a rating system where 0 is no pain and 10 is excruciating pain. Make some notes describing how the pain feels, as this may help with identifying what type of headache it is.

4. Try making changes to your lifestyle

Try to get enough sleep and stick to a regular sleep routine. Introduce relaxation techniques to your routine such as mindfulness. Try to do some gentle exercise everyday and avoid overstraining your eyes, for instance spending long periods of time at a computer/ mobile phone screen or reading.

5. Seek support with medication

You should seek advice from your GP, pharmacist or neurologist before taking any medication for your headache, as some may be more suitable than others depending on the type of brain injury you have had and other medications that you may be taking.

6. Speak to your GP or neurologist

If your headaches do not improve over time, you should speak with your GP or neurologist. You may be prescribed stronger medication or be referred to a specialist headache clinic. If stress is causing you to experience headaches, consider seeking a referral for talking therapy through your GP.


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