Lifestyle Modification Education

Evaluation for potential lifestyle modification is vital to every patient of the Headache Center. Lifestyle modification refers to making changes to the food, drink and substances we put into our bodies and the physical actions we perform with our bodies every day. The most common areas of opportunity that also have the most impact on the frequency and severity of headaches are sleep, diet, exercise, nicotine and drug avoidance, and medication overuse. By addressing one or more of these lifestyle modifications, you have the potential to decrease the frequency and severity of your headaches, and it can also optimize your chance of success with the medications and therapies available for treatment. 

A large part of lifestyle modification is about learning your specific triggers. Classic triggers include: increased stress, an external stimulus (e.g., weather change, bright lights, loud noises, etc.), various foods and drinks, medications, drug and nicotine use, etc. These can exacerbate a headache you already have or trigger a new headache altogether. Triggers do not affect everyone equally. A trigger for one person may have no effect on another person’s headaches. That is why it is very important to track these potential triggers to identify what has an effect on your specific headaches. If we can identify these triggers, you can implement trigger avoidance in your life, which can overall decrease the frequency or severity of your headaches and can also allow your medications or therapies to be more effective.

Please see the educational materials below for a more in-depth look into each of these classic lifestyle modifications:

For additional resources, visit the American Headache Society and American Migraine Foundation.