Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Headaches can be caused by many factors such as genetics, age, weight gain, health triggers, or as a symptom of an underlying health issue. However, for most women, chronic headaches have a close relationship with hormonal changes that occur as they age.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance Headaches
Fluctuating hormone levels can influence the severity of chronic headaches, tension headaches, and menstrual migraines, which at most times are very severe. During the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate and these changes can trigger different types of headaches.
The main symptom of hormonal headaches is a headache or migraine that can start as a throbbing pain in one side of the head and may affect your sensitivity to light or smell.
Hormone levels change for a variety of reasons, including:
- Menstruation period. For every menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels fall just before menstruation. As a result in the days leading to their period women experience migraines.
- Contraceptive pills. Women react differently to oral contraceptives. There are women who have reported severe migraines and others have not. The migraines come as a result of hormonal changes during the last week of the cycle.
- During pregnancy. Changing hormone levels and blood volume during pregnancy can cause headaches. Estrogen levels rise in pregnancy. Most women who get migraines experience them in the first trimester and then find relief after it’s over. If the hormonal headaches continue, consult with your doctor before seeking any treatment.
- Perimenopause and menopause. In the years leading to menopause, many women tend to have more headaches because hormone levels tend to fluctuate even more. As they reach menopause for some, migraines actually worsen. Consult with a GP to identify the root causes and to determine the right treatment for you.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance Headaches
Other symptoms associated with hormonal headaches include:
- Joint pains
- Lack of coordination
Keeping tabs on these symptoms whenever you have migraines for at least 3 menstrual cycles. This will help your doctor to diagnose you correctly whether your migraines are linked to your periods.
Treatment of Hormone Imbalance Headaches
If your doctor diagnoses you with hormonal headaches, there are several treatment options available for you.
When needed, a doctor can prescribe you anti-inflammatory medicines for you to take around the time of your period. Most of these medications are pain killers and do not contain hormones. However, they can help manage headaches especially when taken two to three days before the period starts and during the menstrual flow.
Preventive treatment is the most effective if your menstrual cycle is irregular and where you experience severe headaches throughout the month. Your doctor will recommend preventive headache medications to take every day with NSAIDs or triptan beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, or magnesium.
Most women experience a variety of symptoms as they approach menopause. These symptoms which include headaches and migraines may become so severe that preventive medications no longer work. When this happens your doctor may recommend or prescribe you hormone replacement therapy to get your hormone balance back on track. The type of hormone therapy given may be in the form of pills, estrogen patches, or others. The dosage will depend on the severity of the hormonal headaches.
Some women have developed hormonal headaches using hormonal contraception methods, such as birth control pills or patches. Apart from the side effects, using hormonal contraception to prevent menstrual-related migraines has been proven to help women who have not been helped by other methods. When using contraceptive pills use the pills with fewer inactive days that have a lower dose of estrogen. This will help reduce the drop in estrogen during the placebo days. Talk to your doctor to identify which contraceptive pills can give you the most effective relief.
Migraines medication is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women as it can affect the baby if they cross the placenta. Speak to your GP to discuss the safety of medications and if it is needed, a mild pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, can be prescribed to help relieve the pain.
What You Can Do to Prevent Hormone Imbalance Headaches
It may take a while before you find the right treatment option for you. Closely observing the patterns of your headaches will reveal the causes.
Here are five tips to help prevent hormone imbalance headaches:
- Healthy eating habits. Eating foods high in histamine and missing meals or going too long without food can trigger attacks. Avoid indulging in foods high in histamine and always carry a snack to avoid leaving your stomach being empty for too long.
- Cold compress. Apply a cold cloth or an ice compress to the painful area on your head or neck. Doing this will help reduce inflammation, and hence reduce the migraine pain
- Drink water. Drinking water throughout the day will help you avoid headaches that can be caused by hormones.
- Have a regular sleep pattern. Getting adequate sleep, not too much or too little will help improve your health. On the other hand sleep, deprivation may cause a headache.
- Avoid stress. Although it is not possible to avoid stress altogether, find ways to deal with stress, such as taking regular exercise and using relaxation strategies.
Seek a Specialist
Everyone is unique, some are more sensitive to hormone imbalance than others. If you have tried various treatment options and have regular periods, your doctor may recommend seeing a migraine specialist.
Nava Health Experts Can Help!
Here at Nava center, our mission is to improve your health and overall wellness so that you can function, feel, and look your best at any age. Schedule your appointment with one of our experts who will address your symptoms by getting to the root cause, instead of just putting a bandaid on a symptom. They will recommend treatment options that will be best for your body and health.