May 29, 2008 at 8:06 am
Continuing from where we left off yesterday, here are other possible causes I’ve thought of for my headache as well as things I’ll probably try when I find the time and extra funds. Sorry if all this talk of headaches is giving those of you looking for weight-loss posts a headache, but this problem is affecting my life and my ability to live a healthy lifestyle, so I consider it relevant. Plus, it’s my blog, so I get to do what I want to. Neener, neener!
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
There’s no doubt that I get down when the weather is bad and winter in Indiana lasted about 20 years this season. I bought a special light to sit in front of for 10 minutes in the morning. It helped me feel a little less depressed, but my headache didn’t go away. Also, we finally kidnapped the sun back from the southern hemisphere this month, so I don’t think it’s SAD.
I got my headache a month after I started a new job. I’m not going to blog about work because we’ve all heard stories of people being fired for that and God knows I need the health insurance. I will just say I’ve investigated possibilities and I don’t think it’s anything work-related, be it stress, lack of natural sunlight, or a toxic environment.
I stare at computer monitors all day, so maybe it’s eye strain? I adjusted my monitors (yes, plural) at work so they are at the correct ergonomic height. I also moved them so they are the same distance from my face and my eyes do not have to refocus between distances when I look from one screen to another. My work stations are sufficiently lit and no one else is having problems. Also, if that was the cause wouldn’t my headache go away on the weekends? Just to be safe, I bought a new home monitor this weekend with better resolution and contrast ratio. Think I can write it off as a medical expense?
I don’t always sit up straight at the computer. It’s possible a bad ergonomic position could be causing my neck, shoulders or back to tighten up and cause my pain. But again, if that was the case, wouldn’t the headache have gone away when I was traveling during the past few weekends? I’m trying to sit up straighter anyway since good posture can’t possibly hurt me.
Stress has been known to cause headaches, but I don’t feel that stressed right now. May was crazy, but I’m through most of that and my head still hurts. Plus, the headache started in February when I wasn’t that stressed either.
I had LASIK surgery back in June, so could it be that? I did some googling and I couldn’t find many reports of headache after LASIK. Some people got dry eyes which caused headaches, but there were no situations like mine. It also seems like that problem would have developed right away and not 9 months after the surgery. My vision is so good that I can see all the little leaves on the tress as I’m driving around town, so I don’t think it’s eye strain. I will probably schedule an eye appointment eventually to be sure, but this seems like a dead end.
Marrying the wrong man
Erin recently mentioned she got a headache after she married the wrong man. It sent her to the emergency room thinking she had a tumor. I haven’t married anyone recently, so it’s not that. (BTW, congrats on the engagement, Erin!)
Lack of exercise
I record all my exercise on a wall calendar. I flipped back to February right when I got the headache and that’s when my Pilates and weights sessions started appearing less and less. By the end of April I’d ditched both of those and I was just barely keeping up with my half-marathon training. After the race, I only ran 2 days in the next 3 weeks. God knows it’s hard enough to make myself exercise when I feel good. It’s significantly harder to make myself go to the gym or insert a Pilates DVD into the player when my head hurts all the time.
However, lack of exercise can only be hurting me, so I’m going to focus much more on this. I’m going to try to exercise in the mornings when I don’t feel as drained. After I’ve been conscious and in pain for 12 hours and worked a full day, I really don’t feel like going for a run. In fact, I’ve decided just to focus on work, exercise and keeping up with the blog. There really isn’t room for anything else in my life right now. I’ve exercised 3 out of the 4 last days, so this is going well.
My mom gave me a neti pot. For those of you unfamiliar with this device, it’s shaped sort of like a teapot. You fill it with water, tip your head, and pour the water through one nostril and let it stream out the other nostril. Yes, it is as comical as it sounds. Here’s a video!
It sometimes works for people with allergies. I don’t think my headache is allergies, but I will give it a try.
My brother had TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) awhile back, which means something goes funky with your jaw. It’s usually accompanied by popping and clicking, which I don’t have, so I doubt it’s that. I have noticed I sometimes clench or grind my teeth. Is that causing the headache or am I wearing down my enamel because of the pain? I’m not sure. I’m scheduled to see a dentist next month and I’ll pick his brain about my brain’s pain.
I chew too much gum. I started chewing gum with xylitol because it helps prevent tooth decay. My dentist recommended it after he plugged 12 cavities and I confessed to how many sodas I drink. I sometimes pop a stick of gum to prevent me from eating. It’s stopped me from licking the batter in mixing bowls several times. However, I’m sure using the muscles in my head to chew for an extra hour or so a day is not helping my headache. I’m trying to cut back on the gum, but like the caffeine withdrawal, it’s hard.
I’ve heard artificial sweeteners cause headaches in some people. This has never been the case with me, so I’m not sure why something like that would come on suddenly, but I’m willing to consider it. I’ve cut back to two canned sodas a day. (Yes, I said “cut back.” You don’t want to know how much I used to drink.) I really don’t know how I could eliminate aspartame and Splenda from my diet entirely. This would be a huge step, getting rid of diet sodas and who knows what else in my diet, so I’m putting it off. So many foods have artificial ingredients that I’m not sure what I could eat if I had to cut this stuff out. I’m pretty sure my favorite yogurt would be off limits.
Which brings me to the next possibility: diet and food allergies. There are certain foods that have been known to trigger headaches in other people, such as yogurt and chocolate. Notice how it’s never asparagus or celery that screws you over? I really don’t want to eliminate yogurt from my diet because I like it so much. As with the artificial sweeteners, if I start cutting out everything that might be triggering my migraine, I won’t have much left to eat except for lettuce and zucchini. I don’t know how far I can go on that.
Other miscellaneous suggestions
Readers have also suggested I may be low on magnesium, suffering from depression, or have polycystic ovary disease. I’ll check into this.
Acupuncture and Chiropractors
These are two other possible treatments I’m looking into and will probably pursue, if only because they’ll probably make good blog material. If I let someone stick needles in my face, I’ll bring my camera along and try to get a picture of my pinhead impression for you.
As you can see, there are about 50 bazillion possible causes for headaches. And there are another 50 bazillion possible treatments. So, I’ve added 50 bazillion things to my to-do list which I shall be investigating for who knows how long, or at least until my headache goes away. If you have any thoughts, other possible causes or recommended treatments, the comments are open. Thank you to everyone who has been sharing their stories and kind words the past few days. It’s meant a lot to me to know I’m not the only one who has had to deal with chronic pain. Thanks for your support. My readers are the best.
Earlier: The headache that never went away: Part 2 – My medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy
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