Headaches are a common symptom of menopause. Menopausal headaches can range from mild, dull pain to unbearable migraines that interfere with life. Menopausal headaches are caused by fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, which cause blood vessels to dilate and constrict. Women are five times more likely to get headaches than men, especially menopausal women. There are; however, several ways of preventing and managing menopausal headaches.
As previously mentioned, the main cause of menopausal headaches among women is hormone fluctuations. It is important to try and restore hormonal balance to prevent menopausal symptoms. There are other headache triggers such as bright lights, strong odors, loud noises, stress, dehydration, insufficient sleep, poor posture, and lack of exercise.
There are several ways to prevent menopausal headaches. Making simple lifestyle modifications, like exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and maintaining a proper diet can be very beneficial in preventing headaches. Symptoms can vary from person to person, so choose the treatment option relative to your pain level and lifestyle.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of headaches, so it's vital to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking more water can help boost energy levels and reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. An easy way to tell if you are hydrated is by the color of your urine; it should be a pale yellow, and anything darker than that indicates dehydration. Try to avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, which significantly dehydrate the body.
Eating healthy meals and snacks every three to four hours is recommended for optimum performance and energy. Eating healthy can also prevent headaches, as one main trigger is low blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that eating smaller, more frequent meals and snacks is more beneficial than three large meals a day. An ideal healthy meal includes plenty of protein, fiber, and whole grains. Avoid overly salty foods and skipping meals.
The general recommended amount of daily exercise is at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least five times per week. Walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga are all excellent low-impact workouts. Exercise has been shown to significantly boost energy levels and relieve stress, as well as improve the efficiency of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Additionally, exercise helps the body get better sleep, and also releases endorphins to the brain, which improve mood.
Most people don't get enough sleep because of stress, poor diet, or lack of exercise. Inadequate sleep is one of the main cause of headaches. Helpful ways to relax and get a good night's rest are soaking in a warm bath, reading, or meditation and breathing exercises. Trying these methods before bed may help relax and clear a restless mind. It's important to keep in mind that oversleeping is counter-productive, and can cause drowsiness and headaches.
Menopausal headaches can range from mild to severe, and can affect the ability to carry out everyday activities. Typically caused by hormone fluctuations, women are more vulnerable to them during menopause. There are several ways to help prevent and manage menopausal headaches, like getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Hormone headaches. Retrieved August 8, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/headaches/pages/hormonalheadaches.aspx
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Migraine fact sheet. Retrieved August 8, 2014, fromhttp://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.html#n