Headaches can be a real bummer, to say the least. In a flash, they can turn what was supposed to be a happy or productive day into a nightmare where unrelenting pain jabs at your face, jaw, forehead, or temples. Fortunately, there is hope for headache sufferers, and by adjusting a few things in your life, you may find that you can mitigate their intensity, duration, and frequency.
Our very first tip sets the stage for this entire discussion. Think of headaches, broadly speaking, as existing in two distinct categories: migraines, and non-migraines. For the purposes of this article, we are not going to talk about migraines. That’s because migraines — the nastiest type of headache of all — are so powerful and possibly unrelated in their cause and treatment, that they don’t respond to the same things as non-migraines.
If you get chronic headaches, you need to understand whether you’re having a migraine or not, because migraines can be utterly devastating and cause serious quality of life concerns. If you believe you’re experiencing frequent migraines, you should seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible to come up with a treatment plan that aligns with what you’re experiencing. Migraines are characterized by intense pain, extreme nausea, sensitivity to light; and for many people, a visual “aura” or halo that usually precedes the migraine itself by 15 minutes to an hour.
Non-migraines are typically less painful, more localized (such as in the jaw, temple, or sinus area), and respond better to simpler treatments like the ones we’re going to discuss today.
Now that we’ve established you have a non-migraine headache, let’s talk about some strategies to defeat it while you’re experiencing it. After all, discussing prevention is great, but once you’ve already got a headache, you’re looking for a way to end it right then and there.
For starters, over-the-counter headache pain relievers such as Advil or Tylenol can be effective for some people. However, many people want to limit their usage of these medicines, as they can be damaging to your liver and stomach lining depending on your sensitivity and personal biology. Therefore, we do recommend that you use these options only when you truly need them. If you think you’re up to it, you can try some additional natural remedies instead.
For example, experiment with heat and cold, applied to the local area of your head where the discomfort is centered. Different people (and different headaches) respond best to heat; while others seem to respond to cold. When in doubt, experiment or alternate between the two to see which one feels best for you. However, temperature manipulation through a compress is one of the best natural ways to get relief from your headache. Also, lying down in a dark room can be effective, as this removes stimuli that may be triggering your headache, and gives you a chance to recover. If possible, try to fall asleep for a bit, and you may find that the pain has abated by the time you awake.
The best way to deal with a headache is to not get it in the first place. And that means paying careful attention to common lifestyle triggers like sleep, food, and stress to see if you can identify a pattern that results in headaches.
For example, many people find that certain foods cause them to become susceptible to headache pain. Once might be a coincidence, but two or three times is a pattern that might mean you should try avoiding that food or drink for a while. Also, the position you sleep in, as well as the length and quality of your sleep, can all be classic triggers for headache pain. Are you still sleeping on an old, cheap pillow? You’re not doing your head any favors. Finally, life stress through work, family, or other circumstances, can actually translate into headache pain. Consider easing your lifestyle burdens or seeing a therapist to discuss strategies to minimize the role of stress in your life.
By following these simple changes, you can sow the seeds for a life where headaches are a rare annoyance instead of a frequent occurance.