A headache is a pain in any area of the head, neck or scalp, and is generally the body’s response to physical or emotional stress. In today’s busy world, headaches have become a very common problem. Sometimes they are the effect of medical conditions, but usually, they are simply a result of lifestyle factors such as stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, dehydration, certain foods, alcohol, poor posture etc.
Types of headaches
Although there are many different types of headaches, there are four types that are most common.
- Tension: The person experiences a squeezing pain on both the sides of the head, like a tight band is pressing around it. Caused by stress, lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, head injury, dehydration, and poor posture.
- Cluster: The pain is intense and can feel like a burning or piercing pain behind the eyes. They occur in groups and may be triggered by high altitudes, smoking, alcohol, physical exertion, heat, and bright light.
- Sinus: Pain is experienced in the cheeks, forehead, and bridge of the nose. Caused by swelling of any one of the sinus cavities that are present behind the cheeks, nose, and eyes. This swelling can occur due to cold, fever, infection in the sinus passages, and allergies.
- Migraine: Pain is usually only on one side of the head, and it occurs with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Caused due to perfumes or strong odors, change in sleep patterns or in hormonal levels, caffeine withdrawal, certain foods, physical stress, drinking alcohol, stress, anxiety, and loud noises.
Natural headache remedies
Many people reach for over-the-counter medications to relieve their headaches. However, here are some natural ways that help reduce your headache pain without ever reaching for a pill.
Heat and cold
Cold and heat may relieve pain and muscle tension that can accompany headaches. Applying an ice pack on the forehead, temples, and neck can give relief from a migraine. The cold from the ice helps decrease inflammation and reduces the pain. If you are suffering from a tension headache, then putting a heating pad on your neck or the back of your head can help reduce the pain.
Staying in one position for a long period of time, like sitting at your desk or computer or peering at your smartphone, can cause body tension and create headache symptoms. This position, with your head sticking out, puts extra pressure on your neck and leads to major tension headaches. An easy way to avoid this is to take regular breaks and do exercises to stretch your neck muscles, such as moving your head and neck around in a circular motion. This will relieve the muscle tension and reduce headache pain.
Tension headaches can be caused by various reasons, from poor posture to strained muscles and even anxiety and depression. Massage is especially good for treating stress or tension headaches, as it improves blood circulation, reduces muscle tension, and helps you relax. Massage your scalp, rub the temples in a circular motion or firmly massage the neck and shoulders, to ease muscle tension and reduce the pain of your headache.
Lavender oil has a soothing aroma and is used in aromatherapy to treat headaches, including migraines. It induces relaxation and reduces tension and stress, thus effectively curing anxiety and stress-related headaches. Just put a few drops on a tissue and inhale it. Or dilute it in a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut oil, and use it to massage your forehead, temples, and back of the neck, to get relief from throbbing pain. For a stronger effect, you can add a couple of drops of lavender oil to a small pot of boiling water, and inhale the steam. Another essential oil, peppermint oil, is also effective in treating headaches.
Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Make sure to drink plenty of non-caffeinated drinks throughout the day, such as plain water, coconut water, herbal tea etc. The dehydrating effects of coffee, sugary drinks, and alcohol may also leave you with an intense headache. Drink a big glass of water as soon as your head starts to pain, and try to continue drinking small sips throughout the day. Your headache will gradually reduce and finally be gone.
A stressful lifestyle tenses up the muscles in our body, particularly in the head and neck regions. This frequently leads to a painful and throbbing headache. Relaxation can help ease headache pain. Find a way to relax that works for you. You can try deep breathing, or yoga, or calm your nerves through meditation. You can lie down in a dark, quiet room and take a nap, or listen to some soothing music. Or you can just go for a walk. Getting plenty of good quality sleep at night also helps. These techniques help reduce stress levels, remove tension, and relax you, which in turn helps in easing headaches.
Watch your diet
Consuming extremely hot or cold foods causes headaches in some individuals. There are categories of some foods that are more likely to be triggers for headaches than others. Nitrites and nitrates in processed meats and monosodium glutamate (MSG) used as a flavor enhancer have been associated with migraines. Caffeine, alcohol, tyramine (found in wine, nuts, and fermented meats, cheeses, and soy), and aspartame (in many artificially sweetened foods) causes headaches in some people. If you identify a particular headache trigger, avoid it for some time and see if the headaches reduce.
Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.