There are all sorts of headaches. Only a few types appear to have an allergic basis. Sinus headaches, which occur after obstruction and swelling of the sinus cavities, are often found in patients with allergic nasal problems. Treatment of the allergy condition with improvement in nasal function also reduces sinus drainage and decreases inflammation. If treating the nose doesn’t help your headache, then other types of headache have to be considered.
Certain foods contain chemicals capable of triggering headache, including tyramine, phenylethylamine, caffeine, theobromine, histamine, nitrates and monosodium glutamate.
1. Nitrate containing foods include broad beans, cured meats such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, hams, and smoked fish.
2. Tyramine in high concentrates is found in aged cheeses, wines, pickled herring, chicken liver, yeast extracts and tablets, pickled meats or vegetables and sour cream.
3. Caffeine is found in coffee, cocoa and cola drinks.
4. Theobromine is in tea.
5. Histamine-rich foods are fish, fermented cheese, sauerkraut, dry sausage, pickled cabbage and alcoholic beverages.
6. Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer used in season salts, by itself (accent) and in Chinese foods. It is also added to other sauces.
Migraine headaches can be severe and have associated visual changes and vomiting. Arthritic changes in the temporomandibular joint can lead to headaches that mimic migraines (see TMJ post). Tension headaches usually begin slowly and gradually, often starting in the middle of the day. Tension, or stress, headaches cause a constant, dull, achy feeling on both sides of the head and some will notice a tight feeling in the head or neck muscles. Other things to consider include hormonal fluctuations in women, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and visual strain due to bad vision.