Whether you suffer from clinical migraines, sinus headaches, or plain old stress headaches, you’ve probably experienced that dreaded pain and a ruined day more than once. A pounding headache, impaired focus, sensitive eyes, and lethargy are not only painful, but also annoying — it’s harder to focus at work and to rev up your energy for a workout or a night out with friends.
Of course, popping ibuprofen or other medication might be your usual go-to way of killing that head pain, but the reality is that pills aren’t always the most ideal way to treat migraines. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory meds are likely to cause damage to your stomach lining if used too frequently (and when taken without eating). Before you swallow down a ton of pills, try a few natural ways to cure your headache first.
Plenty of things can be the cause of terrible headaches. Migraines are the most severe type of headaches, which involve hours or days of debilitating pain. They affect about 10 percent of the population, and are diagnosed as such when they’re accompanied by nausea, photophobia (aversion to light), and intensity lasting over several hours. Migraines are often the result of impaired serotonin metabolism, and can be more likely to occur in people who are obese. Emotional and physical stress, caffeine withdrawal, dehydration, or sinus problems (triggered by a change in temperature or air pressure) can also be the source of many unwanted headaches. Below, check out a few ways to fight those migraines before they take over your day.
Drink Lots Of Water And Eat Some Food
The first step is simple: Whenever you start getting a headache, it’s quite possible that you’re dehydrated. To rule this one out, drink plenty of water, and food won’t hurt either. Sometimes not eating enough throughout the day will leave you feeling lightheaded and headache-y. When you’re dehydrated, your body loses electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium. The blood vessels narrow, which reduces oxygen flow to the brain, thus bothering pain receptors in the head. If you choose to take pills for your headache, always take them with food.
Breathe In Humidity, Take A Steamy Shower
If you’re stuck with a sinus headache, you can treat it with humidity. Mucus will fill your nose and sinus passages, making your sinus canals stuffed and sensitive, and unable to be drained. “Increasing humidity and getting more fluid into your body can help your mucous thin out and get moving again,” Dr. Subinoy Das, a specialist in nose and throat health at the Ohio State University Medical Center, told EverydayHealth. A few ways to do this could involve standing over a boiling pot of water and breathing in the steam, placing a humidifier in your room, or taking a steamy shower.
Massage The Tension Out Of Your Head
Massages are effective in stopping tension headaches, which are the most common type of headache. “Its name indicates the role of stress and mental or emotional conflict in triggering the pain and contracting muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw,” the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke writes. “Tension-type headaches may also be caused by jaw clenching, intense work, missed meals, depression, anxiety, or too little sleep.”
Massaging the back of your head, your temples, and your neck can instantly get rid of your headache. Full-body massages have also been shown to terminate headaches completely, since your body can contain tension and stress in your back, neck, and shoulders that could cause tension headaches.
Put A Cold (Or Hot) Cloth On Your Forehead
Everyone is different when it comes to hot vs. cold cloths. If you have a tension headache, it’s often better to use a hot compress, which can relax your muscles. Otherwise, a cold cloth (my personal preferred choice of treatment) can constrict blood vessels, soothe your sensitive eyelids, and numb the pain away.
Peppermint is an herb useful in reducing headache pain as well. A combination of both water mint and spearmint, peppermint has been used as a natural remedy to treat headaches, nausea, gas, indigestion, colds, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Applying peppermint to your forehead or temples can help numb and soothe the area, and you can purchase peppermint either fresh, as a gel, chewable, or oil.