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posted: 2/7/2016 7:17 AM

Your health: Four ways to tame tension headaches

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  • If you suffer from frequent tension headaches, try one of these strategies.

    If you suffer from frequent tension headaches, try one of these strategies.
    File photo


Four ways to tame tension headaches

If you have frequent tension headaches (more often than once or twice a week), the Harvard Medical School offers these strategies that can help you prevent them:

Pay attention to the basics: Get enough sleep, don't skip meals, and be sure to pace yourself to avoid stress and fatigue.

Relaxation techniques: Physical and psychological relaxation therapies can help stave off tension headaches, so long as you practice these techniques regularly.

Physical approaches include applying a heating pad to your neck and shoulders to relax the muscles. Exercising these muscles also helps by strengthening and stretching them.

Guided imagery exercises that help you focus your attention on various parts of your body in order to relax them and release tension and stress can also help.

Biofeedback: This relaxation technique requires special training but can help people avoid recurrent tension headaches.

Typically, a therapist will attach electrodes to your skin to detect electrical signals from your neck and shoulder muscles. You then learn to recognize when you are becoming tense and practice ways to relax the muscles before they tighten so much that you develop a tension headache.

Medical approaches: Some people with tension headaches have very sensitive areas, known as trigger points, at the back of the neck or in the shoulders.

Injecting a local anesthetic into these areas may eliminate the pain and prevent the headache from occurring again.

There are also a number of medications that can help keep tension headaches at bay. If non-drug therapies aren't giving you the relief you need, talk with your doctor about the medication options that might be right for you.

Consider adding fiber for weight-loss

Last month, data crunchers at Under Armour's My FitnessPal app examined data from 427,000 weight-losing users who had come within 5 percent of their goals, The Washington Post reports.

Their food logs looked nearly identical to other users' in calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates, and they exercised just five minutes more per day than their counterparts.

But the newly slimmer folks ate 29 percent more fiber.

A study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found similar results: people who simply ate more fiber lost almost as much weight as others who made complicated changes to their diets.

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