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by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Reducing Your Risk of Headache

Each type of headache has its own way to prevent it. Lifestyle changes can help you get fewer headaches and make them less painful.

Tension Headache

Workout Often
Working out can help ease stress.
Use Good Posture
Poor posture can lead to headaches. Don't slouch. Hold your phone. Don't cradle it on your shoulder or use a headset. A physical or occupational therapist can give you more tips.
Manage Stress
Stress can lead to a headache. A therapist can work with you to make stress management skills and learn ways to relax. The therapist may be able to help you identify events that start your headaches and work toward resolving them.
Get Enough of Sleep
Staying on a sleep schedule will help you get better sleep. It helps ease tension.
Take Breaks
Taking breaks helps stop your muscles from getting tight. It can also ease stress.

Migraine Headache

Keep a Headache Diary
Write down what starts your headaches and what makes them better. This will help you and your doctor make a plan to treat them.
Manage Stress and Relax
Stress can lead to a headache. A therapist can teach you ways to manage stress and learn to relax.
Workout Often
Working out helps ease stress. It can help you get fewer headaches and make them less painful.
Don't Eat Foods That Bring On Migraines
Some foods bring on migraines. Don't eat them. These may be:
  • Chocolate
  • Foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate), tyramine, or nitrates
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Aspartame
Don't Take Medicines that Cause Migraines
Birth control pills and vasodilator drugs can bring on a migraine. Talk to your doctor if you take these medicines.
Eat Small Meals More Often
If low blood sugar happens before a headache, then eating small amounts of food more often may help prevent this.
Don't Change Your Sleep Pattern on the Weekend or During Vacation
Sleeping and waking at the same times may help prevent headaches.

Cluster Headache

Don't Drink Alcohol
Even a small amount can start a headache.
Learn How to Manage Stress
Stress can lead to a headache. A therapist can help you learn how to manage stress and relax.
Don't Smoke
Smoking has been linked to these headaches.

Sinus Headache

Avoid Things that Trigger Allergy or Sinus Symptoms
Allergies can lead to sinusitis.
Get Treated for Allergies and Colds
Treating allergies and colds helps prevent sinusitis. If you get them often, ask your doctor about using a decongestant before you travel. It will help keep nose passages open.
Wash Your Hands Often
Hand washing helps prevent colds and other infections. Colds can lead to sinusitis.
Don't Drink Alcohol
It can cause swelling of nose and sinus tissues.


Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116292/Cluster-headache. Updated March 20, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
Elinoff V, Lynn SJ, et al. The efficacy of Kiko exercises on the prevention of migraine headaches: a pilot study. Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(3):459-470.
Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalalgia. 2018 Jan;38(1):1-211.
Headache—frequently asked questions. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: https://headaches.org/about/frequently-asked-questions/. Accessed January 11, 2019.
Migraine in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114718/Migraine-in-adults. Updated November 8, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Headache-Information-Page. Accessed December 19, 2018.
Tension-type headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114522/Tension-type-headache. Updated March 20, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2018
  • Update Date: 01/15/2019