Many people in today’s hectic society suffer from frequent headaches. Of course, some medical conditions can cause them. Still, more commonly, they result from stress, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, alcohol consumption, eating too little (nutrient deficiency), staying up too late or an extra intensive exercise session. Thus, headaches are more prevalent in people with obesity, sleep and eating disorders, those who smoke and those who consume too much caffeine.
There are several ways to alleviate headaches, including ibuprofen, acetaminophen and prescription drugs, but they do not always work. Despite the temptation, taking more than the suggested dose is harmful and not the answer. Fortunately, many lifestyle practices can minimize headache pain without medication. These natural remedies are easy to do and often prevent future headaches.
Easy Headache Remedies, No Medication Required
The headache type will determine which treatment option is most effective. For example, if you suffer from tension headaches, you can find relief through meditation, breathing exercises or yoga. However, if you are unsure of the type, some remedies work for any headache, like massage therapy, acupuncture, supplements, modifying your diet and staying hydrated. Here we will examine some of the best headache relief methods you can do yourself.
If you have a headache, you may get immediate relief by doing the following:
- Drink a large glass of water. Repeat at least every hour.
- Apply a warm compress or cold compress to the head and back of the neck. A cold compress constricts blood vessels and can reduce inflammation. You can use a pack of ice wrapped in a towel. A warm compress relaxes muscles. You can use a towel dampened with hot water. Sometimes a hot shower delivers the same results.
- Turn off lights and sounds.
- Remove anything putting pressure on your head (a headband, hat, ponytail band, etc.).
- Drink a cup of herbal tea. Calming varieties include ginger, lavender, peppermint and chamomile.
- Practice relaxation techniques like guided meditations, deep-belly breathing and directing all your attention to relaxing your muscles. These activities help reduce anxiety and stress.
- Try aromatherapy. Inhaling lavender essential oil has been found to reduce headache severity.
You may also have to make minor changes to your lifestyle habits to find relief faster and avoid the pain altogether.
If your headache is not the result of a medical condition, then it is your body reacting to something you are doing that is harmful or something you are not doing enough of that is healthy. Lifestyle choices that help ward off headaches include the following:
- Avoid certain foods. Eating things that contain tyramine and phenylalanine can trigger migraines. Eliminate artificial sweeteners, smoked foods, fermented foods, MSG, strong or aged cheese and alcohol from your diet.
- Add foods like cherries and almonds to your diet that are high in fiber and protein.
- Stay hydrated. If you must, set an alarm as a reminder to drink a glass of water every hour.
- Take vitamin and mineral supplements. They improve circulation, are anti-inflammatory, oxygenate your tissues, relax muscles and can offer direct pain relief. Great supplements include riboflavin, magnesium, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, vitamin E, feverfew and chamomile.
- See a qualified massage therapist. Massages are incredibly therapeutic. Poor posture or intense exercise can cause upper body stress and headaches. Massage can relieve headaches and chronic pain from these sources.
It could take time for your body to re-calibrate from the damage it has suffered, but sticking to these nourishing and revitalizing behaviors will make you feel better soon. Make them part of your daily routine to increase the chance of not getting a headache again or getting them less often.
Are You Still Getting Headaches?
The caring and dedicated staff at Foothills Neurology are ready to help you deal with your headaches and get rid of your pain. When you have attempted everything and nothing works, do not lose hope. Our headache specialists are highly trained and will work hard to figure out what is causing your pain. Contact us to schedule a consultation and get started on your personalized treatment plan.