1. TOO MUCH SALT: Eating a salt-heavy diet may lead to headaches, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US. They found people who consumed about 4g of salt a day (a little more than half the recommended amount) were 25% less likely to have tension-type headaches than those who had 8g a day. Salt dilates blood vessels, which may trigger pain.
2. SLOUCHING: Slumping at a desk can lead to knots in the neck muscles which release chemicals that make nerves more sensitive. This causes a tight pain on both sides of the head, says the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists.
3. PAINKILLERS: Painkillers are a good way to relieve headaches, but if you take them more than two or three times a week, they could cause the condition, the charity Migraine Action warns. It is thought that over time, the medicine can lower your pain threshold.
4 YOU’RE A WOMAN: About 60% of women suffer headaches around the time of their period - and 10% get migraines only at this time, according to research in the journal Neurology. It’s thought plummeting oestrogen levels are to blame.
5. SEX: About 1% of people experience headaches during or after sex, known as orgasmic cephalgia. Often described as a thunderclap headache, they can last for minutes or hours. As they cause the same feeling as a haemorrhage, they must be investigated.
6. STRESS: There is a link between stress and how often you have a headache, researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany found. And it’s often the day after a stressful event a migraine strikes because the hormone cortisol, which rises during stress, masks pain so we don’t notice it until we relax.
7. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER: Dehydration causes the brain tissue to lose water so it shrinks and pulls away from the skull, triggering pain.
8. LACK OF SLEEP: Scientists from Missouri State University found depriving rats of sleep for three consecutive nights made them secrete high levels of proteins that stimulate the nervous system, potentially prompting migraines.
9. BRAIN FREEZE: Also known as ice-cream headache, this can be felt on the sides of the head. It is caused by something cold moving across the warm roof of your mouth and the back of your throat. Cold food or drink may temporarily alter blood flow in the mouth, affecting the nervous system and causing a brief headache.
10. COFFEE: You’re likely to suffer if you drink three coffees a day and then stop. US research has found suddenly stopping caffeine intake triggers changes in blood flow in the brain, causing pain. - Mail On Sunday