Aug. 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM ET
By Danielle Braff
Some headaches are more than a little predictable. A few too many cocktails last night? Saw that a.m. head pounding coming. Stayed up too late watching Lost reruns? Yep, totally earned that headache. But even the most experienced headache sufferers around will be surprised to see these weird new triggers.
Here's what could be causing your head to ache--and simple, natural ways to ease the pain:
Trigger: Happy Hour
Why it hurts: You may love all that's smoked, pickled, dried or aged--salami, aged cheeses, and smoked salmon--but they may not be loving you back. Those foods tend to contain sulfites, which may dilate your blood vessels and cause a headache, says Alexander Mauskop, MD, director of the New York Headache Center.
Another happy hour culprit? Wine, something a surprising number of people are allergic to. Researchers from Germany questioned roughly 950 wine drinkers and found that nearly 25% reported at least mild signs of alcohol intolerance. And here's the kicker: Women were almost twice as likely as men to have wine allergies, with symptoms such as flushed skin, itching, nasal congestion, and increased heart rate. (Learn more about alcohol allergies with The Wine Allergy You Didn't Know You Have.)
How to stop it: Using the note-taking function on your phone (or an actual on-paper diary), log what you've eaten whenever you get a headache. Once you've narrowed it down, try eliminating foods and beverages until you're headache-free. Think of it as a little bit of work with a whole lotta payoff.
Trigger: The Weekend
Why it hurts: Yay for the weekend! Your chance to sleep in and pretend the working week never happened. Pure bliss...except for that killer headache. What gives? You're likely going through caffeine withdrawal. Getting up later on weekends means your cup of joe is getting into your system later, and that alone is enough to trigger withdrawal symptoms--and a mother of a headache.
How to stop it: Your best bet is to get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends, says Seymour Diamond, MD, executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation. That will keep your circadian rhythms consistent. If you want a little more shut-eye, sleep in by no more than an hour.
To help keep your sleep rhythm on track, also work on cutting back on caffeine--or, ideally, forgoing it completely--after noon. While most caffeine will be out of your system after seven hours, up to 25% could still be there when you hit the hay.
Find the next five triggers--and how to fix them--with 7 Weird New Headache Causes.