5 Ways To Relieve A Headache

The only thing worse than waking up on a Monday morning is waking up on a Monday morning with a pounding headache. Headaches can not only result in physical pain but also affect your ability to think and concentrate during the day. Here are five simple things to do (or not do) that might help relieve the pain:

1. Have an orgasm

A study from Germany published in 2013 suggested that engaging in sexual intercourse (or even masturbation if you're on your own) could provide relief from migraine pain. 

"It increases the level of oxytocin, which is the pleasure hormone, and the endorphins in your brain, which are natural painkillers," said Dr. Saralyn Mark, a woman's health specialist. So feel free to add "potential headache reliever" to the list of science-backed benefits of having sex.

2. Stop chewing gum

Studies have shown that people who chew gum (typically adolescents) may be prone to headaches caused by the habit. One explanation is that the constant movement of the jaw strains the temporomandibular joint or TMJ — the region where your jaw meets your skull.

"Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," said Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center in Israel. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."

3. Loosen up your hair

Even though they look great, those high ponytails could potentially be one of the causes of your headache. "When you put your hair in a tight bun or ponytail, or a weave or extensions, that will pull the nerves in the scalp," explained Dr. Denise E. Chou, assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center.

To reduce the physical strain and tension of the nerves, she recommended wearing looser hairstyles on most days and saving the tight buns and headbands for certain occasions.  

4. Drink some coffee

An old-fashioned cup of coffee is the go-to option for most of us when we need to wake up and even when we need to escape a pounding headache.

Caffeine can have a mild painkilling effect when consumed during the early stages of a headache, according to Dr. Elizabeth Loder, chief of the headache and pain division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

"But it’s important to not overdo it because you can build up a tolerance for it," she said. "Keep your regular intake fairly low so that when you need it intermittently you can pull it out as a secret weapon,"

5. Take a hot shower

Dr. Mark W. Green from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City recommended a relaxing shower to ease a headache. Make sure the temperature is hot or at least warm. 

"People who wake up with head pain — and that's not rare, by the way—often try to stay in bed and pretend it's not real, or hope that it will go away," he said. Standing underneath hot water can reduce strain by loosening the muscles in the head, neck, and shoulder regions.