Is there any link between genetic/biology and headaches?


#1

What causes headaches, and why do some people suffer from headaches or migraines almost daily? My brother suffers from them all the time, whereas I very rarely do.


#2

There might be. Like with anything else. Perhaps science hasn’t yet found out. But just take a look at some of these weird headache triggers and you’ll see how they can affect some people but not others. It might be the same case with you and your brother.

So here they are:

  1. Smoked Meats. Cured and smoked meets and canned foods like pastrami, deli meats, and beef jerky have synthetic food preservatives called nitrates and nitrites. This type of additives can dilate your blood vessels, which in turn triggers headaches. However, food does not trigger headaches in everybody. People who get migraines are sensitive to these things and more susceptible to headaches set off by food. If you presume that certain foods are causing your headaches, you can keep a food journal to help you find patterns and triggers for your headaches or migraines.

  2. Red Wine and Cheese. Red red wine and aged cheeses such as Brie, Cheddar, Swiss, have a compound called tyramine, a substance that forms from the breakdown of proteins as food ages. Tyramine triggers headaches by restricting and dilating blood vessels (sam principle as above). Another reason red wine triggers headaches might be associated with the presence of polyphenols, which belong to the breakdown of red white wine metabolites. Polyphenols could possibly hinder serotonin metabolic process in the brain. If red wine and cheese triggers you, restrict yourself by eating just low-fat processed cheeses, and limiting alcohol intake to one drink.

  3. Dehydration. This is a big one. Dehydration is what is called a secondary headache. Dehydration headaches occur when you lose a significant part of the water and electrolytes that your body needs to carry out normal functions. Some professionals believe that a dehydration headache happens as an outcome of narrowing blood vessels as the body tries to keep sufficient fluid. To prevent dehydration, it is advised that you consume moderate quantities of water throughout and after workout. A broad recommendation is for men to consume about 13 cups a day and women to drink 9.

  4. Brain Freeze. You might know this one as ice cream headache. This one happens mere seconds after the consumption of cold food. The pain can be felt on the sides of the head and usually lasts for less than a minute. This could be down to a combination of direct stimulation of temperature-sensitive nerves plus the cold’s results on capillary running along the roof of the mouth. So, to prevent this, obviously try to slowly ingest cold food or drinks :slight_smile:

  5. Caffeine Withdrawal. Anyone who’s ever stopped drinking coffee or changed to decaf knows of the feared caffeine withdrawal headaches. What caffeine does is it can have physiological results on the vascular system and can constrict vessels or relax them at different times. Also the reliance created by caffeine can trigger a physiological response that sets off headaches. Usually, caffeine withdrawal can happen after taking in more than 200 mg of caffeine per day for a minimum of 2 weeks and then stopping. Slowly coming off caffeine seems to be the best solution here, as there are no real substitutes for it, like for nicotine for example.