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Best ways to cure a headache: Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms

Ways to Get Rid of a Headache Quickly

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 17, 2022

  • Try a Cold Pack
  • Use a Heating Pad or Hot Compress
  • Ease Pressure on Your Scalp or Head
  • Dim the Lights
  • Try Not to Chew
  • Hydrate
  • Get Some Caffeine
  • Practice Relaxation
  • Try Massage
  • Take Some Ginger
  • Use Meds in Moderation
  • When to Call Your Doctor
  • More

Headaches happen. The good news is there are several simple things you can do to ease the pain without a trip to the doctor. Try these tips and get to feeling better fast.

If you have a migraine, place a cold pack on your forehead. Ice cubes wrapped in a towel, a bag of frozen vegetables, or even a cold shower may ease the pain. Keep the compress on your head for 15 minutes, and then take a break for 15 minutes.

If you have a tension headache, place a heating pad on your neck or the back of your head. If you have a sinus headache, hold a warm cloth to the area that hurts. A warm shower might also do the trick.

If your ponytail is too tight, it could cause a headache. These “external compression headaches” can also be brought on by wearing a hat, headband, or even swimming goggles that are too tight.

Bright or flickering light, even from your computer screen, can cause migraine headaches. If you’re prone to them, cover your windows with blackout curtains during the day. Wear sunglasses outdoors. You might also add anti-glare screens to your computer and use daylight-spectrum fluorescent bulbs in your light fixtures.

Chewing gum can hurt not just your jaw but your head. The same is true for chewing your fingernails, lips, the inside of your cheeks, or handy objects like pens. Avoid crunchy and sticky foods, and make sure you take small bites. If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist about a mouth guard. This may curb your early-morning headaches.

Drink plenty of liquids. Dehydration can cause a headache or make one worse.

Have some tea, coffee, or something with a little caffeine in it. If you get it early enough after the pain starts, it could ease your headache pain. It can also help over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen work better. Just don’t drink too much because caffeine withdrawal can cause its own type of headache.

Whether it’s stretches, yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, learning how to chill out when you’re in the middle of a headache can help with the pain. You might talk to your doctor about physical therapy if you have muscle spasms in your neck.

You can do it yourself. A few minutes massaging your forehead, neck, and temples can help ease a tension headache, which may result from stress. Or apply gentle, rotating pressure to the painful area.

A small recent study found that taking ginger, in addition to regular over-the-counter pain meds, eased pain for people in the ER with migraines. Another found that it worked almost as well as prescription migraine meds. You can try a supplement or brew some tea.

Pharmacy shelves are stocked with pain relievers for all kinds of headaches. To get the most benefit with the least risk, follow the directions on the label and these guidelines:

  • Choose liquid over pills. Your body absorbs it faster.
  • Avoid ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) if you have heart failure or kidney failure.
  • Do not give aspirin to a child under age 18.
  • Take painkillers as soon as you start to hurt. You’ll probably beat it with a smaller dose than if you wait.
  • If you get sick to your stomach when you get a headache, ask your doctor what might help.
  • Ask your doctor what to take to avoid a rebound headache, which is pain that sets in after a few days of pain relievers.

And be sure to talk to your doctor about what headache symptoms you should not treat at home.

Get medical care right away for:

  • A headache that follows a head injury
  • A headache along with dizziness, speech problems, confusion, or other neurological symptoms
  • A severe headache that comes on suddenly
  • A headache that gets worse even after you take pain medications




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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments, and More

Written by Hedy Marks

  • Symptoms
  • Causes
  • How It’s Diagnosed
  • Treatments

Occipital neuralgia is a condition in which the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp, called the occipital nerves, are inflamed or injured. You might feel pain in the back of your head or the base of your skull.

People can confuse it with a migraine or other types of headache, because the symptoms can be similar. But treatments for those conditions are very different, so it’s important to see your doctor to get the right diagnosis.

Occipital neuralgia can cause intense pain that feels like a sharp, jabbing, electric shock in the back of the head and neck. Other symptoms include:

  • Aching, burning, and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tender scalp
  • Pain when you move your neck

Occipital neuralgia happens when there’s pressure or irritation to your occipital nerves, maybe because of an injury, tight muscles that entrap the nerves, or inflammation. Many times, doctors can’t find a cause for it.

Some medical conditions are linked to it, including:

  • Trauma to the back of the head
  • Neck tension or tight neck muscles
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tumors in the neck
  • Cervical disc disease
  • Infection
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel inflammation

Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and about any injuries you’ve had. They’ll do a physical exam, too. They’ll press firmly around the back of your head to see if they can reproduce your pain.

They may also give you a shot to numb the nerve, called a nerve block, to see if it gives you relief. If it works, occipital neuralgia is likely the cause of the pain. You might also have blood tests or an MRI scan if your doctor thinks your case isn’t typical. 

You have to get the right diagnosis to get the right treatment. For example, if you have occipital neuralgia and you get a prescription for migraine medication, you may not get relief.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to relieve your pain. You can try to:

  • Apply heat to your neck.
  • Rest in a quiet room.
  • Massage tight and painful neck muscles.
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen or ibuprofen.

If those don’t help, your doctor may prescribe medications for you, including:

  • Prescription muscle relaxants
  • Antiseizure drugs, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) and gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Antidepressants
  • Nerve blocks and steroid shots. The nerve block that your doctor might do to diagnose your condition can be a short-term treatment, too. It may take two to three shots over several weeks to get control of your pain. It’s not uncommon for the problem to return at some point and to need another series of injections.

An operation is rare, but it might be an option if your pain doesn’t get better with other treatments or comes back. Surgery may include:

  • Microvascular decompression. Your doctor may be able to relieve pain by finding and adjusting blood vessels that may be compressing your nerve.
  • Occipital nerve stimulation. Your doctor uses a device called a neurostimulator to deliver electrical pulses to your occipital nerves. They can help block pain messages to the brain.

Occipital neuralgia is not a life-threatening condition. Most people get good pain relief by resting and taking medication. But if you still hurt, tell your doctor. They’ll want to see if there’s another problem that’s causing your pain.

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How to relieve a headache if there are no medicines at hand / “Interlocutor”

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How to relieve a headache if there are no medicines at hand / “Sobesednik”

25.02.2009 № 7. Lipovets Irina.

In the off-season, when the weather changes every day, headaches torment even those who rarely complain about their health. And therefore, he does not tend to carry a bunch of medicines for different occasions. What to do? You can try to cope with a headache without drugs – a few effective tricks suggested Therapist Nikolay Pravednikov, employee of the Invitro Independent Laboratory.

Face + mirror

Do some simple exercises in front of the mirror to relax your facial muscles. Raise your eyebrows quickly – first the right, then the left, then both. Close your eyes and squint them to the right, to the left. Deeply frown. Press your fingertips on your eyebrows, move them to the bridge of your nose. Let your facial muscles relax after each exercise.


Find the points on the temples that respond to pressure with pain and massage them slowly. These are the so-called reflexogenic zones – their stimulation causes vasodilation and improvement of cerebral circulation, as a result, if the headache does not go away completely, then it subsides. In the same way, you can massage the bridge of the nose.

Eye massage

Close your eyes and massage your eyeballs in gentle circular motions – clockwise and in the opposite direction.

Foot bath

You can soak your feet in moderately hot water. This is a distraction – the blood will rush from the head to the legs, the pain will subside. But! This procedure should not be done by those who have high blood pressure!

Warm-up for the neck

Headaches are relieved by neck massage – especially in cases where pain is associated with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. In addition to the massage, there are a few simple exercises to be performed slowly: tilt your head alternately to the right and left shoulder, press your chin to your chest, tilt your head back.


Place your palms on your ears, warm them up, and then rub until you feel a good warmth. Gently pull them in different directions, up and down.

Massage for two

This technique is used in su-jok therapy – despite being exotic, it is quite effective. The one who has a headache should completely undress, lie on his stomach on a flat surface – on a couch, on a sofa, on a table or on a rug. His task is to focus and mentally determine the place where the headache is most severe. The second person should find a point on his buttocks corresponding to the area where it hurts the most, and press on it. It is important that the muscles of the buttocks are completely relaxed.

get rid of headaches, folk remedies

Headache occurs for various reasons: due to stress, allergies, colds, etc. Sometimes the head starts to hurt where there is no way to get medicines nearby, or it happens so often that taking medicines becomes unsafe. How to get rid of a headache without pills in such cases?

How to relieve a headache without pills?

Instead of resorting to over-the-counter painkillers, which are contraindicated for many, for example, a nursing mother, you can try to get rid of a headache with natural methods. This is possible with the help of folk remedies that do not harm health and bring pronounced relief. How to quickly relieve a headache is described in the article.

How to get rid of a headache during the war – folk remedies

Headaches are a very common problem during the war, the main cause of which is stress. Pressing, aching pain, shooting in one place or vice versa, bilateral, combined with muscle tension in the cervical region – all these are the most common symptoms of a headache during the war. Most often, headaches of this kind do not respond well to painkillers, so effective folk methods come to the rescue.

Get some sleep

Headaches are caused by overwork or lack of sleep, especially during times of war. In this case, you need to take a nap for a couple of hours. Sleep is a great headache treatment without pills. At the time of sleep, the window or window should be open (you can pre-ventilate the room so that it is cool in it). However, too much sleep also causes headaches, so getting the right amount of rest is important for those looking for natural prevention. But, if you feel constant fatigue, the problem may lie elsewhere. About “5 hidden causes of chronic fatigue” read our article.

If you do not want or cannot fall asleep, it is enough to arrange a “quiet hour” for yourself to get rid of unpleasant symptoms or significantly reduce them. Within 10-15 minutes you need to lie down in complete silence, be sure to close your eyes. In this case, absolutely nothing should be done.

Do some light exercise

Whether it’s stretching, yoga, meditation or walking, light exercise during a headache can help you manage it. Light physical activity will not only help keep the body healthy, but also improve blood circulation, thereby reducing the likelihood of headaches. And, in order to relieve tension in the cervical region, perform daily exercises for the neck: tilting your head back and forth, left and right.


Massage specific points to relieve tension in the head and relieve headaches. You need to start from the forehead and move towards the back of the head, and then move on to the ears and neck. You can also try massaging the area between the eyebrows and the two points at the base of the eyebrows on either side of the bridge of the nose. These points can contain tension in the eyes or head, and massaging them will help relieve this tension.

Take a walk outside

The head often hurts from hypoxia, which usually occurs during the heating season when the heaters burn out oxygen. What to do if the head hurts, but there are no pills? It is enough to arrange a walk along the street for 30 minutes. This will help restore good health.

Restore the water balance

Headache quite often occurs due to insufficient fluid in the body. A glass of non-carbonated water will help relieve unpleasant symptoms. To stay hydrated when out and about, just carry a water bottle with you and drink it throughout the day. Eating foods that are high in fluid content, such as fruits, smoothies, or soups, can also improve hydration and prevent or reduce the severity of headaches.

Get some caffeine

Drink tea, coffee or anything with a little caffeine. If you get it early enough after the pain starts, it may relieve the headache.

Improve your diet

Irregular eating can also cause headaches. If you haven’t had breakfast yet, it’s time to start. The lack of a normal diet can affect the level of glucose in the blood. Therefore, when a headache appears, you need to eat something hot. For example, porridge or soup. If you can’t eat three meals a day, eat healthy small snacks like almonds or raisins throughout the day.

Take a warm shower

Traditional treatments for headaches are varied and include showering or bathing.

Often a headache is caused by a violation of blood circulation in the head due to muscle spasm or cervical osteochondrosis. Taking a hot shower helps to dilate the blood vessels, but if this is not possible, a heating pad that needs to be applied to the neck area will help. You can also use a woolen scarf, which you need to wrap your neck after lightly rubbing the area of ​​\u200b\u200bits back surface. It is important to note that a contrast shower in itself perfectly relieves a headache.

A warm bath can also help with headaches. Water procedures relieve spasmodic pains, as well as relieve tension in the neck and head. For best results, take a warm bath with lemon juice, sea salt, lavender, peppermint essential oil or marjoram.

Apply a cold compress

Cold helps relieve headaches caused by overexertion. So, it is necessary to moisten a linen napkin in cold water or wrap the ice in a towel, and then apply it to the temples and forehead. However, you should not use ice without first wrapping it, because you can cause vasospasm, which will increase the headache after a little relief.

How to relieve a headache without medication using this method?

A headache compress will help constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing headaches. After wrapping a few ice cubes in a towel, you should keep it on the sides of your head and on your neck for 10-15 minutes.

Try Aromatherapy

Essential oils are real headache relievers. So, if you have a cone of essential oil lying around somewhere, it’s time to use it. So, the aroma of lavender relieves stress, relaxes and soothes, and also helps to fall asleep. The aroma of mint soothes the nerves that are often the cause of headaches. Peppermint oil should be rubbed into the back of the head, temples and crown area for 10 minutes.

You can also use any of these essential oils for headaches:

  • rosemary oil;
  • chamomile oil;
  • eucalyptus oil.

What else will help relieve a headache during the war?


One of the simplest yet effective drinks for sudden headaches is lemon water. It not only treats hangover headaches, but is also effective for almost all types of headaches. The intensity of the pain will decrease if you drink warm water with a little lemon juice. Another option is how to use a lemon for a headache: lemon zest should be applied to the forehead and the pain will go away almost immediately. In addition, lemon juice can be rubbed on the temples and forehead, which is good for headaches.


Traditional methods for headaches include the use of ginger. Ginger root contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. So, 1 tsp. chopped ginger should be added to a glass of hot water and boiled for several minutes. Then filter, add a little honey and the medicine is ready.


Coriander has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, coriander seeds can be chewed and used in food or tea. How to relieve a headache without drugs: 1 tsp. coriander seeds should be added to boiling water. Let the water boil until the strong smell of coriander is felt. Then ½ tsp should be added to it. tea leaves and let the broth brew for a few minutes.


Chamomile reduces inflammation that can cause headaches. Chamomile also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which can often be a contributing factor to headaches. How to get rid of a severe headache recipe: 1 tsp. boil chamomile in a glass of boiling water. When the chamomile is infused for several minutes, it must be filtered, add honey.

Betel leaves

Due to its analgesic properties, betel leaves relieve pain. Recipe: grind a few (2-3 pieces) fresh betel leaves with a meat grinder and distribute the resulting slurry on the forehead and on both sides of the head. Leave for half an hour and soon the headache will subside.

What causes headaches?

Headache is caused by signals interacting between the brain, blood vessels and surrounding nerves. During a headache, an unknown mechanism activates certain nerves that affect the muscles and blood vessels. These nerves send pain signals to the brain.

Common headache triggers include:

  • alcohol use;
  • changes in eating or sleeping patterns;
  • depression;
  • emotional stress;
  • drug overuse;
  • eye, neck or back strain due to bad posture;
  • lighting;
  • noise;
  • weather changes;
  • smells.

Depending on the source, there are three main categories of headache:

  • Primary headaches: tension pains, migraine and cluster headaches.
  • Secondary headaches: cerebrovascular disease, head trauma, high blood pressure (hypertension), infection, drug overuse, sinus congestion, hangover headaches, swelling.
  • Cranial neuralgia , facial pain and other headaches.