Many people have headaches, often triggered by age, gender, health and lifestyle. College students are no exception. In fact, these young and seemingly healthy individuals often lead lifestyles that put them at an increased risk for headache disorders.
The most common type of headache college students get is a tension-type headache. A tension-type headache causes non-throbbing, frequently bilateral pain. The underlying cause of a tension-type headache is likely chemical and neuronal imbalances in the brain and may be related to muscle tightening in the back of the neck or scalp. That college students suffer tension-type headaches a lot isn’t surprising; students spend significant time in straining positions, such as sitting in uncomfortable lecture hall seats or hunching over laptops trying to catch up on assignments. This is especially true now, as many programs turn to online only learning.
In addition, college students are no strangers to other common triggers of tension-type headache, including temporary stress, fatigue and anxiety. From cramming for finals to worrying over grad school applications, from late-night parties to early morning hangovers, from straining to read endless pages of small-print textbooks to staring at a computer screen for hours a time, college students should know how to avoid the headaches that can easily occur as a result of their lifestyle.
These tips can help:
- Studying for long periods of time can cause eyestrain. Take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair. Uncomfortable seating can cause neck and back strain that may lead to tension-type headache.
- When it comes to alcohol, drink in moderation, with plenty of water in between drinks, to avoid hangover headaches in the morning. If hangovers do occur, treat with hydration and foods high in fructose (think: honey or tomato juice).
- If you are trying to stay awake to study, drink coffee in moderation. Caffeine withdrawal can be a common source of headache for avid coffee drinkers.
- Though college students and regular schedule might sound like an oxymoron, try not to vary meal and sleep schedules too much. Irregular sleep cycles and missing or delaying meals can trigger headaches.
- Practice relaxation and biofeedback techniques to help relieve the daily stress and anxiety of college life.