How to quickly relieve a headache: 6 steps to relieve a headache
9 Natural Strategies for Headache Relief (Infographic)
You know the feeling all too well. It’s 3 p.m., and you are sitting at your desk. Your eyes feel tired, and you get easily distracted. Slowly, you start to feel a dull pain creep up from the base of your neck, temples, jaw or eyes. You are getting a tension headache.
Headaches can be caused by chemical activity in the brain, nerves, blood vessels, or the muscles in your head or neck. Most commonly, they are caused by a combination of these things. They can cause pain on one or both sides of the head, in one particular location or radiate from one point all over your head. Headaches can be caused by stress, skipped meals, bad posture, alcohol, and sleep changes.
Primary headaches, including cluster headaches, migraines, and tension headaches, are nothing to worry about in most cases. Cluster headaches are very painful and can happen on one side of the head or one eye. They often occur in “attacks” and last from a few weeks to a few months with breaks in between. Migraines are a throbbing or pulsing that often causes sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, or vomiting. These headaches are also very painful and can last from hours to days. Lots of people experience warning signs that let them know that a migraine might be happening. The most common type of headaches are tension headaches, and the pain can range from mild to moderate. It is often described as feeling like you have a rubber band around your head.
If you’re tired of reaching for the pill bottle or just dealing with the pain, check out these natural ways to ease your headaches. If you still have a hard time managing the pain, the doctors at UnityPoint Clinic – Neurology can help.
1. Drink More Water
A few studies have shown the effects of drinking more water on those that suffer from headaches and migraines. Scientists in the Netherlands discovered that drinking around seven glasses of water a day relieved headache pain for many of their patients.
Some people claim that exercising triggers headaches and migraines, but studies have shown that moderate aerobic exercise can help prevent headaches. Researchers noted that exercise increases the natural pain relieving chemicals in your brain called endorphins. These chemicals may assist you in your quest to avoid taking too much medication.
3. Specific Foods
Some studies have suggested that certain foods can help in preventing and helping headaches. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, have an anti-inflammatory property that can contribute to reducing headache pain. Potassium was also shown to have headache-relieving components, and can be found in potatoes and bananas.
The American Massage Therapy Association states that full-body massages can help relieve headaches, as well as arthritis, lower back pain and insomnia. You can do a self-massage to relieve pain and tension by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones by your ears and using your fingertips to rub in a circular motion from your temples to the middle of your forehead.
Meditation, the combination of calmness, relaxation, and balance, has been shown to help control headache symptoms. This practice quiets the mind, increases pain tolerance, and allows you to focus on your body without any outside distractions. The breathing also slows your heart rate and opens your blood vessels.
Simple stretches and yoga have been shown to reduce tension-related headaches. The Huffington Post has a list of the best yoga poses for relieving headache pain.
7. Relaxation Techniques
Learning relaxation techniques can help you manage the pain of a headache and can also help you keep them from getting worse. Breathing exercises, which can vary for any problem, and guided imagery, the practice of finding your “happy place,” have both been proven to help with pain.
8. Heat and Ice
Both heat and cold have been shown to help reduce headache pain. Heat from a rice bag or heating pad increases the blood flow to your brain while cold from an ice pack decreases the blood going to your brain. Which you choose all depends on preference and what you think works best.
When taken with a pain reliever, caffeine has been shown to improve the effectiveness of pain medication by 40%. Many headache and migraine medications contain caffeine. While this isn’t an entirely natural strategy, it’s good to know when your headache doesn’t go away on its own.
There are some signs and symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
A headache that comes on without notice or suddenly becomes severe.
A fever or tightness in your neck with your headache.
Experiencing a seizure, changes in behavior, confusion, or loss consciousness.
A headache that started right after an injury or exercise.
If you have a headache for the first time and you experience weakness, numbness, or trouble seeing along with the headache.
If you get headaches often or your headaches are severe.
UnityPoint Clinic – Neurology offers many procedures, including things like Botox, that can ease the pain of headaches. Contact your primary care provider for a referral to a UnityPoint Clinic Neurologist.
15 home remedies for migraine relief
Migraine is a neurological condition. There is no cure for migraine, but home remedies — such as essential oils and stress management — may help provide relief from symptoms and help prevent episodes.
Migraine headaches are different from other types of headache. The symptoms can include:
- visual changes
- sensitivity to sound, light, or smell
- nausea or vomiting
A number of medications can treat or prevent migraine episodes. Natural remedies may be able to provide additional symptom relief.
Below are 15 home remedies for migraine relief and prevention.
Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific parts of the body. The aim of stimulating these points is to alleviate pain.
Professionals can administer acupressure, or people can try it themselves at home. However, it is helpful to follow instructions from a professional before beginning.
A useful acupressure point for headaches is the LI-4 point, which is in the space between the base of the left thumb and the index finger. Applying firm, but not painful, circular pressure to the LI-4 point using the opposite hand for 5 minutes may relieve headache pain.
A 2017 study looked at using acupressure in 98 participants with chronic migraine with aura. The participants received either standard medication or medication with acupressure for 8 weeks. The researchers found that acupressure decreased migraine-related nausea, but did not relieve pain or enhance the quality of life.
A person may find that changing their diet helps prevent migraine episodes. This is because, for some people, specific foods are migraine triggers.
Some common examples of foods that can trigger migraine include:
- processed meats
People can try to identify potential migraine triggers by keeping a symptom diary and looking for patterns.
Learn more about migraine triggers and how to prevent episodes.
Lavender essential oil may help relieve stress, anxiety, and headaches. A 2021 literature review found that there are 10 types of essential oil that contain components that could help ease migraine symptoms. These include lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and basil.
Some clinical trials appear to confirm these conclusions. A 2020 triple-blind trial with 144 participants found that the topical use of basil oil reduced the pain intensity and frequency of migraine episodes.
However, more clinical trials are necessary to better understand which essential oils work best, and how to use them.
It is important to note that some essential oils can be harmful to children, people who have asthma, or those who are pregnant or nursing. Please consult a doctor before using them.
People should only inhale essential oils via a diffuser. If applying topically, always dilute with a carrier oil at a safe concentration.
Although research suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils, and they should be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. A person should always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Learn more about using essential oils for headaches.
A 2021 review of three clinical trials found that ginger powder was safe and effective in treating people with migraine. In comparison to control groups, it significantly reduced pain after 2 hours. Ginger also helps to relieve nausea and vomiting.
While ginger may have benefits, there is a risk of side effects and interactions. For example, people taking warfarin may have an increased risk of bleeding. Speak with a doctor before trying it.
Stress triggers symptoms in 7 in 10 people with migraine. It may even create a cycle, in which migraine pain worsens the stress, which then triggers another migraine.
Whenever possible, it is best to limit situations that can lead to stress. Finding outlets such as journaling, exercise, and meditation may help. Other stress relief strategies might include taking a warm bath, listening to music, or practicing breathing techniques. Some people find stress management classes helpful.
Learn more about managing stress.
An older 2014 study compared conventional migraine treatment with or without a regular yoga practice. The researchers found that the group who participated in yoga had greater relief than the group who received conventional treatment alone. Participants did yoga 5 days per week for a total of 6 weeks.
A 2022 review noted that short-term yoga interventions reduced clinical migraine symptoms. It also alleviated anxiety, depression, and stress, which can worsen episodes.
Biofeedback is a therapy that involves learning how to consciously control bodily functions that are typically unconscious. For example, a person might learn how to relax muscles.
Sensors on the targeted muscles feed into a small machine that gives real-time feedback about muscle tension, helping users identify tight muscles.
Using sensors along the forehead, jawline, or trapezius muscles in the shoulders may help people target muscles that are contributing to migraine pain.
Acupuncture is a therapy in which a practitioner inserts needles into specific areas of the body for targeted effects. It is similar to acupressure.
An extensive 2020 systematic review looked at studies that evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating migraine. The study authors found that acupuncture was a safe and effective treatment choice for people with migraine headaches.
However, they acknowledged that many of the studies were low quality and that more high quality research is necessary. Anyone interested in trying acupuncture should find a registered, licensed practitioner.
Massaging the muscles in the neck and shoulders may help relieve tension and alleviate migraine pain. Massage may also reduce stress.
A person may benefit from a professional massage. Anyone interested in a self-massage for migraine can try taking a clean tennis ball and standing against a wall to roll it with some pressure along the shoulders and back.
A deficiency of the essential mineral magnesium may trigger migraine aura or menstrual migraine headaches.
Research has found that taking supplementary magnesium may help reduce the frequency of episodes for some people.
Speak with a doctor before taking this supplement, particularly if other health issues are present.
B vitamins may reduce migraine frequency and severity. They play a role in regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
A 2021 review found that vitamin B2 at 400 mg daily for 3 months had significant effect on number of days, duration, frequency, and pain score of migraine episodes.
Vitamin D may also play a role in the frequency of migraine episodes. A 2018 study found that people with migraine and vitamin D deficiency had more days with migraine pain than those without the vitamin deficiency.
B vitamins are water soluble, so any excess passes out in the urine. For this reason, it is unlikely that a person could take too many. Still, it is best to speak with a doctor before taking new vitamin supplements.
Butterbur and feverfew are two herbal supplements that may be helpful in reducing migraine pain and the frequency of episodes.
A daily dose of 150 mg of butterbur for about 3 months could reduce episode frequency, according to the American Migraine Foundation. The organization notes that while feverfew is less effective than butterbur, it may be helpful for some people.
There are some risks involved when taking herbal remedies. Speak with a doctor before trying these supplements.
For some, dehydration can be a migraine trigger. Drinking enough water throughout the day may help prevent migraine episodes from occurring. Taking small sips of water may also help a person deal with some migraine symptoms, such as nausea.
Some people find it helpful to lay down in a dark room when they have a migraine headache. For some, falling asleep can also alleviate the pain.
Adequate sleep can also help prevent migraine episodes. Getting too much or too little sleep can be a migraine trigger. Aim for 7–9 hours of restful sleep each night.
Some people find that laying cool or warm compresses on their head can be soothing and help reduce migraine pain.
However, people with circulatory problems, diabetes, or some skin conditions should avoid extremes of temperature.
If an individual experiences migraine symptoms more than a few times per month, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with work or other activities, it is important to see a doctor. A doctor can rule out serious illnesses and provide advice on managing and treating symptoms.
Migraine is common, but it is often underdiagnosed, particularly in communities of color and those with lower incomes.
If someone is having difficulty getting a diagnosis from their primary doctor, they may be able to get second opinions or speak with a headache specialist instead.
Headache specialists are doctors who have completed additional training in diagnosing and treating migraine and other headache disorders. The American Migraine Foundation has a directory of headache specialists people can use to find one.
Migraine can cause severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. Although medications may help ease symptoms, some people may also find relief from lifestyle changes and home remedies.
Ginger, accupressure, some essential oils, and yoga may help relieve the symptoms. Learning what triggers migraine episodes can also help a person prevent or manage them.
If migraine episodes are frequent or severe, it is important to see a doctor. A headache specialist can provide advice on treatment options and help manage symptoms.
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How to quickly relieve a headache
Many people suffer from headaches, and there can be many reasons for this. Noise pollution, overvoltage, sudden changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, and much more affect the state of human health. And so most people either get used to living with a headache, which eventually develops into something pathological, or grab painkillers for any symptoms. Neither is the best solution.
Therefore, experts advise taking other actions that can solve the headache problem.
- Massage. Doctors have proven that a person who sets aside time once a day to do a head massage suffers from chronic pain less. At least they are not as acute as they could be. Massage restores blood circulation, relieving spasms, which are the main cause of headaches. Massage is recommended with soft circular movements in the temples, neck and forehead. Also, if conditions allow, it is worth kneading the neck, because due to overstrain, the muscles can “petrify” and the blood in the collar zone can stagnate.
- Warm-cold technique. Suitable for throbbing pain. It is recommended to apply ice or a wet towel to the temples, where important arteries are located that supply the cerebral cortex with blood. If the pain is pressing, then it is worth applying something warm to the neck from the side of hair growth, which will help reduce pressure.
- In addition to massage, trying to change the atmosphere or activity can help. Staying in one position for a long time, such as sitting at a computer, can make the headache worse. Try to relax, step away from work for a few minutes, walk around the house or office. If you bring the muscles into action, then the blood will “run” faster. And if there is an opportunity to go outside, so much the better for your head.
If you use both massage and an attempt to relax at the same time, then the headache will become less noticeable and annoying if it does not go away. In addition to simple physical exercises, doctors recommend drinking a relaxing tea with mint or chamomile. If the headache was the result of severe overwork, then you should allow yourself to relax for a few minutes, eat a small chocolate bar and drink a hot drink. After a while it will get much better.
However, it should be understood that there is a difference between a pathological headache and a normal one. In the case of the first, it is recommended to consult a specialist, since this may be a consequence or symptom of some serious disease that should be treated with slightly different methods. Therefore, carefully monitor your health, and if it seems to you that the pain in your head is not natural, then consult a doctor who can analyze the symptoms, make a diagnosis and choose the best course of treatment. It is important not to neglect the recommendations, since the early stage of the disease can develop into something more serious, which will bring many negative consequences. Therefore, monitor your physical condition more carefully.
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How to get rid of a headache in 2 minutes
Each of us has experienced a headache. This condition is painful – it interferes with productive work, communication, doing ordinary things and just living a full life. Is there a way to get over a headache quickly? Experience shows that this is quite possible.
Life hacks for health
Simple life hacks
A headache can be so severe that a person has no strength left for anything. When it comes to migraines, specialists prescribe strong painkillers, and patients take a number of measures to wait out the attack and, if possible, reduce the level of discomfort.
Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.
The most common headache is tension headache. This is a primary headache: its occurrence is not associated with any other diseases. Pain can be localized in different areas of the head: someone suffers from a headache in the forehead, someone more often experiences temporal headache or pain in the back of the head.
Headache is not considered in society as some kind of serious illness, and even in cases where it really causes serious discomfort, people try not to take sick leave and try to work fully.
Everyone chooses their own strategy for dealing with a headache: someone waits and endures, someone turns to folk remedies, someone immediately takes painkillers.
Remove in 2 minutes
Business consultant Kamil K. Wawrzyszko came up with an unusual way to deal with a headache. The video, in which he explains the essence of his method, has been viewed more than 5 million times, and users have left more than 30 thousand comments under it.
What does Vaurizko offer? His strategy to get rid of a headache in 2 minutes involves focusing on the pain. He invites everyone to get rid of discomfort, just listen to him and answer questions about headaches. However, this can be done without the help of a video, just by asking yourself questions.
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So ask yourself and answer honestly:
- Where is your pain?
- What color is pain?
- What form of pain?
Repeat these questions several times until you realize that you don’t know where your pain is or what it looks like – in most cases it does disappear in a couple of minutes.