Stop a headache fast: Try These 9 Simple Headache Hacks for Fast Relief
Try These 9 Simple Headache Hacks for Fast Relief
Some home remedies and lifestyle changes may help you get rid of headaches faster. This includes staying hydrated, changing your diet, or trying things like massage and acupuncture.
Relieving your headache
For many people in today’s busy world, headaches have become an increasingly common occurrence. Sometimes they are the result of medical conditions, but often, they’re simply a result of stress, dehydration, a late work night, or just overdoing it at your spin class.
While there are plenty of treatments to reduce headaches, including over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or prescription headache medications, they don’t always eliminate the symptoms.
And tempting though it may be, the solution isn’t to take more than the recommended dosage. In fact, many common (and super simple) lifestyle habits can help reduce your headache pain without you ever reaching for a pill.
Yes, massages may seem luxurious, but they’re also incredibly therapeutic. Sometimes headaches result from tension in the upper body due to muscle strain from poor posture or a rigorous workout routine.
Massage therapy may be able to reduce chronic pain as well as ease muscle tension that causes headaches.
Take the time to research types of massage (Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, etc.) and get reliable referrals for a practitioner near you who can effectively address your specific pain points.
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For muscle tension headaches, hot and/or cold compresses can offer relief. For the cold portion, place ice in a plastic bag covered with a thin cloth to avoid harming your skin. Place the ice pack on your forehead and/or cheeks, basically wherever the greatest source of pain is.
Just be sure to limit cold pack applications to no more than 10 minutes at a time.
For the hot portion, you can purchase a heat pack at most drugstores, or make your own using uncooked rice. Take a small pillowcase or piece of fabric and fill it about two-thirds full with uncooked rice. Sew or tie the open end together.
When needed, microwave the rice for one minute. Apply to the back of your neck or forehead for heated relief.
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Aromatherapy is the study of how certain smells can trigger positive and even healing responses in the brain.
Some smells have been reported to soothe and reduce the incidence of headaches. These include peppermint extract, eucalyptus, and lavender oil. They are readily available at many local health food stores or online.
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Acupuncture involves applying fine, sharp needles to key areas on the body as a means of promoting energy flow. It’s thought to stimulate the body’s natural pain-relieving compounds, and according to the National Institutes of Health, has been shown to reduce headache frequency and severity.
Yes, breathing. You know, that thing you do all the time already! It may sound silly, but tension-related headaches can sometimes be relieved with regular breathing exercises that help focus your mind and ease your muscles.
Start by finding a quiet place with a comfortable chair in your home, office, or other location where you will not be distracted. Next, take slow, rhythmic breaths, breathing in for five seconds then out for five seconds. As you relax, your muscle tightness reduces.
You can also try a progressive relaxation technique by focusing on each major muscle group in your body. Start from your toes and work your way up.
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Dehydration can contribute to a headache, but it can be easily avoided. Grabbing a good old-fashioned glass of water can help as much as an electrolyte-containing beverage such as Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Powerade.
But just as there are drinks that can reduce headaches, there are those that can trigger them.
Drinking too much coffee or too many caffeine-filled soft drinks can lead to headaches. So if you normally start your day with a Starbucks quad latte, you may want to trade it for a toned-down mixture of half caffeinated and half decaffeinated.
Alcohol, and particularly red wine, can also lead to dehydration that triggers headaches.
We hear a lot about the health problems caused by lack of sleep, and not getting your nightly minimum can lead to chronic headaches. But knowing you need more sleep and actually getting it are two different things.
There are several ways you can improve the amount and quality of your sleep, including the following.
Commit to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at regular times. Even if you just go to bed 15 minutes earlier or sleep 15 minutes later, this can be a step in the right direction.
Avoid stimulants in the hours before bed. Stimulants like alcohol, sugar, nicotine, and caffeine can keep you from sleeping and keep you up at night with trips to the bathroom. Give your body time to wind down before your head actually hits the pillow.
Choose a relaxing activity before bed. Turn off the television or computer and treat yourself to a good book or a hot bath. It may sound old fashioned, but a little relaxation goes a long way!
Certain foods, while delicious, have been known to contribute to headaches. Try keeping a “headache diary” of the foods and drinks you consume on a daily basis or specifically when you experience a headache.
If you identify a particular trigger, avoid it for some time and see if the headaches reduce. Possible problem foods include:
Caffeine-containing foods and beverages. Examples include chocolate, coffee, cola, and tea.
Monosodium glutamate-containing foods. MSG is used as a preservative and has traditionally been used in some Asian cooking. It’s also found in foods like instant ramen noodles.
Nitrate-containing foods. Most simple meats, such as hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, and pepperoni can cause headaches.
Tyramine-containing foods. Tyramine is a compound produced by the breakdown of an amino acid called tyrosine, and it’s found in foods like pizza and aged cheeses.
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The warmth and comfort of a steaming cup of herbal tea makes it an excellent way to wind down at night. Those same soothing qualities can have pain-relieving effects. Because herbs can interact with medical conditions and medications, it’s important to check with a doctor before drinking these teas.
Favorites for relaxation include chamomile, ginger, and dandelion.
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Rachel Nall is a Tennessee-based critical care nurse and freelance writer. She began her writing career with the Associated Press in Brussels, Belgium. Although she enjoys writing about a variety of topics, healthcare is her practice and passion. Nall is a full-time nurse at a 20-bed intensive care unit focusing primarily on cardiac care. She enjoys educating her patients and readers on how to live healthier and happier lives.
18 Remedies to Get Rid of Headaches Naturally
Headache symptoms can be managed at home with a number of natural treatments, including drinking water, taking a nap, applying a cold compress and more.
Headaches are a common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.
Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.
Several types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or “clusters,” while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.
Although many medications can be used to treat headache symptoms, a number of effective natural treatments also exist.
Keep reading for 18 effective home remedies to naturally get rid of headaches.
Headaches have a number of causes, some of which are much more serious than others.
Research shows that certain dietary and lifestyle factors could increase the risk of experiencing headaches. Examples include (1, 2, 3, 4):
- lack of sleep
- caffeine withdrawal
- alcohol use
- nutrient deficiency
However, serious injuries and underlying health issues can also cause headaches.
For example, headaches can result from potentially life threatening conditions, including tumors and blood clots, as well as from traumatic brain injury (5).
Medication overuse and infections of the central nervous system can cause headaches as well (6).
Additionally, some people are more likely to experience headaches than others.
People with obesity, those with sleep disorders, those who smoke, and those with high caffeine intake are more at risk of experiencing headaches. People with a family health history of headaches are more prone to headache disorders too (6, 7, 8).
1. Drink water
Inadequate hydration may lead you to develop a headache.
In fact, studies have demonstrated that dehydration is a common cause of headaches (4, 9)
What’s more, being dehydrated can impair concentration and cause irritability, making your symptoms seem even worse (10).
Thankfully, research suggests that drinking more water may help reduce headache occurrence, duration, and severity in some people (11).
To help avoid dehydration headaches, focus on drinking enough water throughout the day and eating water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
2. Take some magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral necessary for countless functions in the body, including blood sugar regulation and nerve transmission (12).
Interestingly, magnesium has also been shown to be a safe, effective remedy for headaches.
Evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency is more common in people who get frequent migraine headaches than in those who don’t (13).
Studies have shown that treatment with supplemental magnesium, in many different doses and forms, may help reduce both the frequency and the severity of migraine headaches (14).
For example, supplementing with 600 mg of magnesium citrate may be effective for reducing headaches in people with migraine (15).
However, taking magnesium supplements can cause digestive side effects like diarrhea in some people, so it’s best to start with a smaller dose when treating headache symptoms and ask a healthcare professional if you have questions related to dosing.
Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Citrate is a great choice for people who want to try magnesium for headaches. Each capsule contains 150 mg of magnesium citrate.
Pure Encapsulations products are tested by third-party, independent laboratories, including Eurofins, Intertek, and Silliker (16).
Shop for Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Citrate online.
3. Limit alcohol
While having an alcoholic drink may not cause a headache in most people, studies have shown that alcohol can trigger migraines in about one-third of those who experience frequent headaches (17).
Alcohol intake is also a risk factor for tension headaches and for cluster headaches, which are among the most severe types of headaches (17, 18).
There are several ways in which alcohol is thought to trigger headaches, including by provoking inflammation, activating certain neuronal pathways, contributing to dehydration, and widening blood vessels, though the exact mechanism is still unclear (17).
People who experience frequent headaches could try cutting back on their alcohol intake to see if it benefits their symptoms.
4. Get adequate sleep
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your health in many ways and may even cause headaches in some people.
In fact, research shows that poor sleep quality and insomnia are associated with increased headache frequency and severity (19).
Sleep apnea, a health condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and then starts again during sleep, is associated with morning headaches, while insomnia is linked to increased headache severity in those with tension headaches (20, 21).
However, getting too much sleep has also been shown to trigger headaches. Therefore, getting the right amount of rest important for those looking for natural headache prevention (22).
For maximum benefits, aim for the “sweet spot” of 7–9 hours of sleep per night (23).
Having trouble sleeping? Read more about natural sleep aids.
5. Avoid foods high in histamine
Histamine is a chemical found naturally in the body that plays a role in the immune, digestive, and nervous systems (24).
It’s also found in certain foods, such as aged cheeses, fermented foods, beer, wine, smoked fish, and cured meats.
Studies suggest that consuming histamine may cause migraines in those who are sensitive to it (25).
Some people cannot excrete histamine properly because they have impaired function of the enzymes responsible for breaking it down (26).
Cutting histamine-rich foods from the diet may help reduce symptoms such as headaches in people who are sensitive to histamine (27).
6. Try essential oils
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that contain aromatic compounds from a variety of plants.
They have many therapeutic benefits and are most often used topically, though some can be ingested.
Research suggests that peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus essential oils are especially helpful when you have a headache (28, 29, 30).
If you experience frequent headaches, try diffusing essential oils or rubbing a small amount of an essential oil, like peppermint or lavender oil, mixed with a carrier oil, like jojoba, onto your wrists or temples.
There are a number of high quality essential oils available, with Eden Botanicals being one of the best brands to consider.
Shop for Eden Botanicals essential oils online.
7. Try a B-complex vitamin
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble micronutrients that play many important roles in your body. For example, they contribute to neurotransmitter synthesis and help turn food into energy (31).
Some B vitamins may also have a protective effect against headaches.
Several studies have shown that certain B vitamin supplements, including riboflavin (B2), folate, B12, and pyridoxine (B6) may reduce headache symptoms (32, 33, 34).
B-complex supplements contain all eight of the B vitamins and are a safe, cost-effective way to naturally treat headache symptoms.
B vitamins are considered safe to take on a regular basis, as they are water-soluble, meaning that any excess will be flushed out through the urine (35).
If you’re looking for a high quality B-complex supplement, you may want to try Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex. It contains highly absorbable forms of B vitamins, including methylcobalamin and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
The supplement is third-party tested, and customers can obtain a certificate of analysis on the Nordic Naturals website.
You can shop for Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex online.
8. Soothe pain with a cold compress
Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.
Applying cold or frozen compresses to your neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction, and constricts blood vessels, all of which could help reduce headache pain (36).
Studies suggest that cold therapy may benefit those experiencing certain types of headaches, including headaches caused by nitrate medication used to treat heart conditions like chest pain (37).
To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of your neck, your head, or your temples for headache relief.
9. Consider taking coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance produced naturally by the body that plays a role in energy production and functions as a powerful antioxidant (38).
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements may be an effective natural way to treat headaches.
For example, one study in 80 people diagnosed with migraine demonstrated that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 per day reduced migraine frequency, severity, and length (39).
A 2021 review that included 6 studies found that treatment with 30–800 mg of CoQ10 per day was effective for reducing migraine frequency and duration (40).
Thorne Research CoQ10 (previously Q-Best 100), which provides 100 mg of CoQ10 per 1-gelcap serving, is a good option for people who experience migraine.
Thorne Research is a well-trusted supplement company that is certified by several third-party organizations, including the Therapeutic Goods Association, a regulatory agency run by the Australian Government Department of Health (41).
Shop for Thorne CoQ10 online.
10. Try an elimination diet
Studies suggest that food intolerances can trigger headaches in some people (1).
To discover whether a certain food is causing frequent headaches, you may consider trying an elimination diet that removes the foods most related to your headache symptoms.
Aged cheeses, alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits, and coffee are among the most commonly reported food triggers in people with migraines (1).
A 2016 study in 50 people with migraine found that eliminating migraine-triggering foods from the diet significantly reduced migraine attack frequency, duration, and severity (42).
Read more here about how to follow an elimination diet properly.
11. Drink caffeinated tea or coffee
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Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness, and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms (43).
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (43).
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake (44).
While there are many excellent tea brands on the market, Stash Teas is known for offering a wide variety of flavors, including Green Chai, Orange Spice, and Double Bergamot Early Grey.
Shop for Stash teas online.
12. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body (45).
This practice has been linked to a reduction in headache symptoms in many studies.
A 2020 overview of 15 systematic reviews concluded that acupuncture may be an effective therapy for people with migraine (46).
What’s more, a 2022 study that included 156 people with migraine found that treatments with both 5 and 10 sessions of acupuncture were effective for reducing frequency of migraine attacks and migraine severity (47).
If you’re looking for a natural way to treat chronic headaches, acupuncture may be a worthwhile choice.
13. Relax with yoga
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, increase flexibility, decrease pain, and improve your overall quality of life (48).
Taking up yoga may even help reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches.
One study investigated the effects of yoga therapy on 60 people with chronic migraines. Headache frequency and intensity were reduced more in those receiving both yoga therapy and conventional care than in those receiving conventional care alone (49).
Additionally, a 2020 review that included six studies found that yoga helped improve headache frequency, duration, and intensity in patients with tension-type headaches (50).
14. Avoid strong smells
Strong odors like those from perfumes and cleaning products can cause certain individuals to develop headaches.
A study of 400 people who experienced either migraine or tension headaches found that strong odors, especially perfumes, often triggered headaches (51).
This hypersensitivity to odors is called osmophobia and is common in those with chronic migraines (52).
If you think you may be sensitive to smells, avoiding perfumes, cigarette smoke, and strongly scented foods may help decrease your chance of getting a migraine.
15. Try an herbal remedy
Research suggests that certain herbs, including curcumin, chamomile, and butterbur, may reduce headache symptoms.
For example, a 2020 review of 19 studies found positive preliminary findings for curcumin as a preventive treatment and for chamomile as an acute treatment for migraine (53).
The review also found limited evidence that supplementing with butterbur, a perennial shrub native to Germany that has anti-inflammatory effects, may benefit those with migraine (53).
Even though some herbs are safe to take, it’s important to be cautious when supplementing with herbs, as many can interact with commonly prescribed medications and may be unsafe for people who are pregnant or have certain health conditions (54).
Of the herbal supplements mentioned in the review listed above, curcumin and chamomile are generally considered safe. However, it’s important to check with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy to treat headaches.
Thorne Meriva-SF is an excellent choice for those looking for a high quality curcumin supplement to prevent migraines, and Nature’s Way Chamomile may be helpful if you’re looking for immediate headache relief.
Shop for Thorne Meriva-SF and Swanson Chamomile online.
16. Avoid nitrates and nitrites
Nitrates and nitrites are food preservatives commonly added to items like hot dogs, sausages, and bacon to keep them fresh by preventing bacterial growth.
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people (55).
Nitrites may trigger headaches by causing the expansion of blood vessels (56).
In order to minimize your exposure to nitrites, limit the amount of processed meats in your diet and choose nitrate-free products whenever possible.
17. Take some ginger
Ginger root contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances (57).
A 2021 review that included three randomized control trials found that treatment with ginger supplements helped reduce pain in people with migraine (58).
What’s more, the ginger treatments helped reduce nausea and vomiting, common symptoms associated with severe headaches (58).
If you’re interested in taking a ginger supplement, Pure Encapsulations Ginger Extract is a high quality supplement that provides 500 mg of ginger root extract per capsule.
You can also make a powerful tea using fresh ginger root. Not only is it cost-effective to make, but drinking the tea is a healthy way to stay hydrated.
Shop for Pure Encapsulations Ginger Extract online.
18. Move more
One of the simplest ways to reduce headache frequency and severity is to engage in physical activity.
A number of studies have shown that exercise could help significantly reduce migraine intensity, frequency, and duration (59, 60, 61)
There are many ways to increase your activity level, but one of the simplest ways is to increase the number of steps you take throughout the day.
Learn 10 ways to move more every day.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent headaches, the following evidence-based tips may help:
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated throughout the day is a simple way to reduce the risk of headaches while benefiting your overall health. Hydration needs vary, depending on factors like activity levels, body size, and more, so let your thirst be your guide (62).
- Identify underlying causes: There are many potential underlying causes of headaches, including nutrient deficiencies. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, see a healthcare professional for a thorough checkup to rule out potential causes (2).
- Eat regularly: Undereating and restricting calories could cause you to develop a headache. Make sure you’re consuming enough calories throughout the day, and don’t go long periods of time without eating (63).
- Get the right amount of sleep: Both sleep deprivation and oversleeping may trigger migraines. It’s important to get the right amount of sleep, not too much or too little. Aim for 7–9 hours of sleep per night (23).
- Try to manage your stress: Stress may trigger some types of headaches and take a toll on overall health. Incorporating healthy stress management practices like exercise, medication, and yoga into your life may help reduce your stress level as much as possible (64).
There are many other ways to help reduce headache frequency, duration, and severity. You can work with a healthcare professional to come up with a plan that works best for you.
The occasional mild headache isn’t usually a cause for concern, but if you’re experiencing frequent headaches or a lasting, severe headache, it’s critical that you seek medical care.
Headaches can be a symptom of a serious underlying health issue, such as a tumor, a blood clot, or another medical condition that requires immediate medical attention (5).
A doctor can help rule out potential underlying causes of your headaches and give you the right care.
They can also run tests to help rule out health conditions and nutrient deficiencies, such as B12 and iron deficiency, which may cause or worsen headaches (65, 66).
It’s especially important to seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing a headache after an injury or trauma, such as a fall, or if you experience a sudden, very severe headache, as this may be a symptom of a serious medical condition.
What is the fastest home remedy for a headache?
There are several home remedies that may help treat headaches.
For example, if dehydration is causing a headache, drinking water can help quickly improve the symptoms (11).
Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also help reduce headache pain (67).
Relaxing in a dark room, using a cold compress, smelling some peppermint or lavender essential oils, drinking some caffeine, and avoiding loud noises may also help reduce headache severity.
However, keep in mind that these remedies may not be effective for everyone. Effective treatments depend on the type and cause of the headache you’re experiencing.
Are there any home remedies for headaches that you should avoid?
It’s important to avoid taking herbal supplements to treat a headache unless you’ve checked with a healthcare professional first to ensure the supplements are safe for you. Many herbal supplements can interfere with common medications and aren’t safe for everyone (68).
You should also avoid drinking too much caffeine, as this can make you jittery and interfere with sleep (69).
Is there anything that makes headaches worse?
Bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells may make headache symptoms worse.
If you’re experiencing a significant headache, it’s important to relax in a calm, dark, quiet environment.
Lack of sleep, alcohol, stress, certain foods, hormonal fluctuations, calorie restriction, and taking headache medicine too frequently could also trigger or worsen headaches (70, 71).
Because people experience negative effects from frequent headaches, it’s important to find natural and effective treatment options.
Yoga, nutritional supplements, essential oils, and dietary modifications are all natural, safe, and effective ways to reduce headache symptoms.
While traditional methods such as medications are often necessary, there are many natural and effective ways to prevent and treat headaches if you’re looking for a more holistic approach.
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How to relieve a headache if there are no medicines at hand / “Sobesednik”
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How to relieve a headache if there are no medicines at hand / “Interlocutor”
25.02.2009 No. 7. Irina Lipovets.
In the off-season, when the weather changes every day, headaches torment even those who rarely complain about their health. And therefore it is not customary to carry a bunch of medicines for different occasions. What to do? You can try to cope with a headache without medication – a few effective tricks were suggested by therapist Nikolai Pravednikov, an employee of the Invitro Independent Laboratory.
Face + mirror
Do a few simple exercises in front of a 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.
Close your eyes and massage your eyeballs in gentle circular motions – clockwise and in the opposite direction.
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 that need to be done 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.