Headaches are awful. Sometimes, they can leave you practically bedridden, like migraines. Other times, you might be able to walk around, but that’s about it. You practically become a member of the living dead.
If you’re among the afflicted, getting relief will probably be your goal. Often, this can come from of over-the-counter painkillers. However, it’s not a good idea to pop pills indiscriminately. If you get headaches frequently, taking advantage of more natural alternatives may be a wise choice. Traditional migraine cures, like caffeine or a headache-friendly environment, may help. These aren’t the only medicine-free headache cures out there, though.
Before we get started, you should try to identify what kind of headache you have. We’ve already mentioned migraines, but there are other types. Tension headaches, which tend to be common and less painful, are generally located in the temples and back of the head. Sinus headaches, which are also common, are caused by inflammation and pressure in the sinuses. These are generally due to illness or congestion, so you may need medication for relief. Additionally, two other, less common types of headaches are cluster headaches and rebound headaches. Cluster headaches are intensely painful headaches that appear in short bursts each day over the course of a few weeks or months. Rebound headaches are a reason to cull your use of painkillers, if you don’t need them, since an overuse of painkillers causes them.
Now that you have a better idea of the kind of headache you’re experiencing, what are some painkiller-free headache cures?
There aren’t many aches and pains that a nice massage won’t at least slightly relieve. You don’t need to head to a parlor, though. You can do many headache-relieving massages to yourself. In some cases, they’re as simple as applying pressure to the right area — like directly beneath your brows and the bridge of your nose. For headaches that are farther back in the head, massaging your temples can be effective. Applying pressure and/or massaging where your neck meets your head (your suboccipital muscles) can also work.
It should be noted that a massage will not cure the underlying cause of the headache, so the fix may be only temporary. If it’s a minor headache, though, this may be enough.
The primary reason that massage helps lessen the pain of headaches is because it relaxes the muscles. Since tension in the muscles may cause the pressure resulting the headache, massage may be able to ease the pain. It should be noted that massage will not cure the underlying cause of the headache, so the fix may be only temporary. If it’s a minor headache, though, this may be enough.
Heat or Ice
Temperature-related treatments for a headache are a lot like massages. They may relieve the symptoms of the headache, but not its cause. Both heat and ice can provide relief. How much of it can depend on the type of headache.
A lot of people suffering from migraines favor cold compresses, while many suffering from tension headaches say they respond better to heat. Either remedy may be effective, though, because there are no firm rules when it comes to headache relief. Applying heat or cold can take the form of a compress, an ice pack, a heating pad, or even a hot or cold shower. Just remember a few basic guidelines and safety precautions when using these items.
The cause of the headache can determine what may be more likely to help lessen its pain. Warmth for tension headaches, cooling for vascular.
Cooling products should be placed on your forehead and temples, while warm compresses should be applied on your upper neck and lower back of the head. The cause of the headache can determine what may be more likely to help lessen its pain. If tension is causing the ache, warmth should ease and relieve the muscles (much like a massage). If the pain is vascular (or caused by swelling of blood vessels), like with a migraine or cluster headaches, something cold should relieve the swelling. Be sure to follow any and all safety precautions, like not applying cold directly to the skin and not applying heat to the skin more than 20 minutes.
Another common, but less discussed, cause of headaches is dehydration. A dehydration-caused headache can lead to impaired concentration and irritability and eventually even a migraine. Other symptoms of a dehydration headache are nausea, thirst, dry mouth, and muscle cramps.
A dehydration-caused headache can lead to impaired concentration, irritability, and eventually even a migraine.
Curing a dehydration headache is a bit more straightforward than treating other headaches. Since it manifests symptoms that aren’t related to other types of headaches, specifically symptoms tied to dehydration, it’s easier to identify. Once you know you have a dehydration headache, rehydrating should help ease the pain. In some cases, electrolyte-filled sports drinks may help even more than water. Either way, drink up, since most of us aren’t hydrating enough anyway.
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Headaches can be a minor annoyance or a day-ruiner. If you have a less severe headache, light exercise or yoga may be another effective alternative to painkillers. If you’ve got a particularly nasty one, and medication isn’t an option, don’t make matters worse by stressing too much. Relief may be a sip of water away!