Women are five times more likely to get headaches than men. This can be linked to the main cause of headaches in menopausal women, the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen especially causes blood vessels to dilate, and progesterone makes them constrict. Therefore, when these hormones fluctuate, it results in pain.
Women become more vulnerable to frequency and intensity of these headaches as they approach menopause. Headaches can strike at the most inopportune times. They can be debilitating and affect productivity and concentration. That being said, there are several ways to help manage these headaches at work.
What Causes Headaches?
The two most common types of headaches are tension headaches and migraine headaches. Tension headaches are the mild, everyday headaches that typically do not last more than a few hours. Migraine headaches are much more severe, and are characterized by a recurrent, throbbing pain that starts on one side of the head and can continue for hours or days.
Although hormone imbalance is the main cause of menopausal headaches, there are other outside triggers that can cause them, so it is important to be aware of them in order to avoid them. The triggers that should be avoided include: excessive alcohol or caffeine, lack of sleep, skipping meals, dehydration, stress, lack of exercise, and poor posture.
Tips to Manage Menopausal Headaches
Here are some helpful tips to manage headaches at work.
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of headaches, so it is crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent them. Keeping a water bottle at your desk or station will encourage you to keep drinking often.
Skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to drop, which can subsequently result in headaches. Eating healthy meals plus small snacks throughout the day helps boost energy and prevent headaches. Try incorporating as many fruits, vegetables, and protein into your diet as possible, and avoid salty, processed foods.
Stress is another common cause of headaches, especially at work. It is important to try and reduce stress to prevent headaches and other illnesses. A good way of reducing stress at work is to step away from the computer or counter for a minute. Taking a short walk outside and getting fresh air will help clear your head and allow you to recharge. If leaving the office isn't an option, try to walk around the office as much as possible to stretch your legs and get away from the computer.
Many people do not realize that poor posture is directly linked to headaches and back and neck pain. It is important to actively try to maintain good posture when sitting at a desk, and avoid hunching over. It is also helpful to massage the neck and shoulder muscles throughout the day to relieve tension.
If all else fails, taking over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help stop headaches.
Menopausal headaches are a common complaint among women, and can be debilitating at times. They can be especially frustrating when they occur at work as they can deplete productivity and energy. Menopausal headaches are typically caused by hormone fluctuations, but can also be triggered by a number of outside factors, like strong odors, bright lights, and poor posture. Helpful methods to manage menopause headaches at work include eating healthy and often, talking walks, and practicing good posture.
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Hormone headaches. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/headaches/pages/hormonalheadaches.aspx
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Migraine fact sheet. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.html#n