Lunch hour is long over and 5 o'clock is still far away. You know what's coming--your daily afternoon headache. Mild or severe, many people suffer from an aching cranium in the second half of the day. However, you can take steps to prevent that temple-thudding annoyance and enjoy your afternoons a great deal more.
The University of South Florida explains that there are two kinds of headaches--those caused by tightening muscles and those caused by arteries tightening and loosening. Muscular headaches can be caused by abnormalities in the spine from simple bad posture to something more serious. Headaches relating to the arteries, called vascular headaches, include the more painful migraine and cluster headaches. In these cases, the arterial changes put pressure on the nerves, causing pain.
Most often you have done something simple to cause these responses in the body. Too much time in the sun, dehydration, stress, hunger or a change in sleep patterns may be the culprit behind your aching head. Even something as simple as having more or less coffee than usual can trigger a headache.
According to Merck, a respected medical manual, afternoon headaches are most often tension-type headaches. They usually begin the afternoon, feel like a tightening around your head, and last 30 minutes or more.
The National Pain Foundation suggests a small mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon snack to keep blood sugar stable. Staying hydrated and avoiding processed foods, especially those containing monosodium glutamate, MSG, may also help.
Though many people choose to treat recurring afternoon headaches with over-the-counter pain medications, your doctor can actually prescribe something that may be more helpful. Antidepressants are sometimes given to keep the chemical levels in the brain level. Anti-convulsants and muscle relaxants can also be helpful for chronic headache sufferers, according to MayoClinic.com.