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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion: your guide to recovery
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Headaches & concussion

Headaches are common, but they often will go away after days or a few weeks. But sometimes they can last longer.

If you have a headache, try using these tips to help:

What else can I do?

Sleep well

Not enough sleep, too much sleep or changes in sleep patterns can trigger headaches. More details on sleeping well »

Eat regular meals

  • Your brain needs fuel to recover. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at around the same time each day. It is known that skipping or delaying meals can cause headaches in some people.

  • Certain foods can trigger headaches. Some common foods that can trigger headaches are aged cheeses, chocolate, citrus, processed food, wine, caffeine and food with additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and nitrates.

Drink enough liquids throughout the day

Drink non-caffeinated drinks (e.g. water, milk). Diet soft drinks should be avoided as some of the artificial sweeteners can cause headaches.

Manage stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause headaches or make them worse. It is important to take time to relax and do things to prevent and manage stress. More information on managing stress in the mood section »

Exercise

  • In the first few days after a concussion, physical rest is important. But as the days go by, some exercise and physical activity can help with headaches. Start with light workouts such as walking, riding a stationary bicycle or swimming and then slowly increase the efforts of your exercise.

  • For some people, physical activity and exercise can make headaches worse. It is important to start slowly and to pay attention to how you are feeling. More information on getting back to physical activity and exercise »

Keep a headache diary

Keep track of when your headaches happen, what you were doing just before the headache, the level and type of headache pain and what you did to make yourself feel better. This can help you learn what makes your headache better or worse and how to avoid triggers. This information can also help your doctor understand your headaches and how to help you.  More information on using a headache diary »

Medication

  • Talk to your doctor about which medication is right for you. Ask your doctor before starting any vitamins or supplements. Always follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take your medication.

  • Taking too much Advil or Tylenol can cause medication overuse (rebound) headache and make headaches worse. Make sure you limit the amount of headache medications you take to less than 10 days a month. Use a calendar to keep track of how much medication you are taking.

If your headaches don’t get better or your pain gets worse, see your doctor or health care provider.