Everyone has experienced a headache at some point in their lives; whether it is a result of stress, sickness, or dehydration we have all experienced the pounding of a painful headache. So what is going on when you get a headache? Well, some of the many reasons that we can experience headaches are inflammation of the blood vessels in the head, tense muscles and tendons in the neck and at the base of the skull, or blocked sinuses and sinus infections. Your headache could have been caused by a lack of sleep, dehydration, stress, or even a nutritional imbalance, to name some of the more common ones. Persistent headaches could indicate an underlying medical condition, so it is always recommended that you visit your doctor if you experience a headache that lasts for longer than a few hours, is recurring, or more painful than you can manage yourself.
Since there are so many different causes of headaches, and many ways that we experience headaches, there are also a variety of ways to help get rid of headaches.
1. Use over the counter medications.
Perhaps one of the most common and effective ways to relieve pain is through over the counter medications. These can help reduce or even remove the pain completely. Common over the counter drugs like Tylenol (a mild analgesic), Aspirin, or Advil can be purchased from drug stores or grocery stores. Tylenol is the brand name for the drug acetaminophen and acts as a mild analgesic and can also be an effective medication to break fever. Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, is also a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication. Advil, or ibuprofen, is a well-known and very effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Each of these common medications has a different mechanism of action but each can be an effective way of managing your pain. Do consult with your physician, though, before taking any medication, even over the counter drugs. Drug interactions must always be considered and a pharmacist is a valuable resource when determining what medications that you should take.
However, for one reason or another, some of us may not like the idea of relying on drugs to get rid of pain. Luckily there are several natural remedies that may just work for you.
2. Drink some lemon.
Our first natural remedy is lemon. Yes, that sour, face-puckering fruit can help restore the body’s alkaline balance and relieve the pain. Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of warm water and enjoy. If the headache is not too severe it might be interesting to have someone take a picture of you trying the first sip.
3. Snack on salted apples.
This remedy may be a little easier to swallow if sour is not up to your tastes. Some apple slices with a little sprinkle of salt and a glass of water can also help restore certain chemicals that your body is telling you that you are missing.
4. Get some rest.
Getting the right amount of sleep is not only a great remedy for headaches, but is possibly one of the greatest factors that help determine our overall health. If our body is too tired to cope with the physical and mental demands of the day then one of the first signs can be a headache. Simply getting the proper amount of sleep can work wonders for our body.
5. Reduce your stress.
Anything that causes worry or anxiety, or throws our emotions out of balance can be a stressor. A little bit of stress, and how our body reacts to it can be good. It can help us maintain clarity of thought in an emergency or difficult situation like an exam, or it can cause our body to release adrenaline in order to run fast when frightened or excited. However, too much stress, or stress for too long a period of time, can cause inflammation of blood vessels or even a chemical imbalance which results in a headache.
Ways of reducing stress could include massage, listening to relaxing music, or finding a little time each day to exercise even just a little.
6. Use a warm compress .
If the headache is primarily at the back of the head near the base of the skull it may be caused by tense muscles and tendons in the neck. If you are finding that the usual medications do not completely remove the pain, then you may consider a warm compress. Rinse a cloth under water as warm as is comfortable then place it on the back of the neck. This can help to relax the muscles and tendons and relieve the tension.
7. Go to see your doctor.
Other sources of headache could be due to injury, illness, or infection and in these cases it is best to seek the help of a medical professional.
Headaches resulting from sinus pressure or infection can be resolved by flushing of the sinuses or a course of antibiotics. Pain in other areas of the body can indicate a compounding problem and it is best to seek a diagnosis from a medical doctor.
If the pain at the back of the head is severe or persistent then another cause to consider is a neck injury. This could require medical attention. While it would be obvious to seek medical help if we were in a car accident, sometimes we can injure our necks in other ways. A quick neck movement, maintaining an awkward position while sleeping, or a slip and fall can result in a neck injury. A doctor will be able to determine if the cause of the pain is indeed an injury and recommend the best course of action to heal the injury and stop the pain.
Headaches can be one of the most uncomfortable pains to have to deal with and we all need to manage the pain in the way that works best for ourselves. Try some of these remedies and hopefully managing a painful headache will become an easier task. Do not forget to discuss any sources of discomfort with your doctor, they will be your best resource for finding out the cause of your headache and the best way to cope with the discomfort.