If you think a taste of chocolate, a glass of wine, and sleeping late on weekends are harmless vices, think again. Those innocent indulgences are just a few of the most common triggers of headaches.

But don't give up hope just yet. It's possible you may be able to enjoy your favorite things and headache-free days. There's more to the problem headache story than just a list of culprits. Coming up is must-know information that will help you get a grip on headaches once and for all. It starts with taking the time to look at your own particular condition, type of headache, and family history. Then use that knowledge to decide what you can personally do to make yourself more comfortable.

Not all headaches are alike. Different types need different attention, so start by determining what kind of headache you have. Could it be a…

Tension-type headache? If you have a feeling like a band being squeezed around your head, or if you simply feel muscle tension on both sides of the neck or back, it's possible that you have this common, occasional type of headache. Some unfortunate people, however, have them every day.
Cluster headache? If you're a male, then this is probably your type of headache because cluster headaches affect men more than women. With intense pain that often appears on one side of the head without warning, cluster headaches last between 30 and 45 minutes. Sometimes these headaches are accompanied by teary eyes and sinus congestion. "Cluster" comes from the unfortunate fact that these headaches sometimes resolve only to occur again later in the same day.
Hormone headache? It's no surprise that these belong to the female population, usually triggered by the menstrual cycle. Many of their symptoms, such as sharp, throbbing pain on one side of the head, nausea, and sensitivity to sound and light are similar to migraines.
Migraine headache? Ever notice a visual disturbance before a headache? You could be experiencing an aura, which signals that a migraine is on the way. Usually throbbing and piercing, migraines are generally one-sided but can affect both sides. Sensitivity to light and loud noises, and even odors, as well as nausea, are often reported. Women tend to be the most frequent sufferers.

Any of those sound familiar? If you know your headache type, that sometimes can help determine what treatment course will be most effective.

But before we discuss treatment, let's take a step back. Rather than treating a headache, imagine stopping it from happening in the first place. Too good to be true? Not at all. Many of these common headache triggers are things you can address directly.

Working with your head still for long periods of time
Keeping your head down, as when looking at a computer screen that's too low
Changes in sleep, either too much or too little, especially on weekends
Clenching or grinding teeth, especially at night
Intense, flashing, or bright light, such as from the sun and computer screens
Sudden or prolonged loud noise
Skipping meals, dieting, or fasting
Physical exertion and overdoing exercise
Motion sickness
Hormone fluctuation, especially estrogen in a woman's cycle.
Food sensitivities to, for example, aspartame, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, MSG, cheese, and aged or processed meats
Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
Smells--whether unpleasant or not--including perfume, flowers, pollution, and secondhand smoke
The weather, especially the period right before a rain storm or during changes in barometric pressure
Allergies, which make a person sensitive to pollens and toxins and often result in painful sinus congestion
Stress and/or anxiety--but you don't have any of that, right?

Now consider yourself armed with knowledge. You can identify many of the types of headaches and factors responsible for bringing them on. And I hope you also know that you're not alone in this battle. (Just the popularity of this topic proves that.) But better still, your arsenal will soon include options for helping to not only relieve headaches but even prevent them from occurring.

Enough talk--let's take action. For the next two weeks, keep track of facts about your headaches--when you get them, what you've been eating or drinking, hormones, the weather, any condition that is different from the norm--in a headache diary. This journal can be a helpful tool to "connect the dots" among seemingly unrelated clues to arrive at some real solutions based on your headache patterns.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.