Frequent headaches can be a real pain
Headaches are a common complaint, affecting people of all ages. Some lucky souls rarely get headaches, while others suffer on a regular basis. A little headache can make you crabby and uncomfortable, but a big, full-on throbbing headache can be downright debilitating.
Understanding what causes headaches in the first place is a good way to have fewer of them.
Common headache types and symptoms
These are the most common type of headaches, and women are far more likely to experience tension headaches than men. Tension headaches usually feel as though there’s a tight band around your head. When we’re stressed, we tend to draw our shoulders up toward our ears, and our muscles contract. We may even clench our jaw. All of these physical movements contribute to tension in our head, neck and shoulders. Poor posture can also cause tension headaches, especially in people who work at a desk or look at a screen most of the day.
When you have a sinus headache, you typically feel the pain behind your brows or cheekbones. Sinus headaches occur when the sinus passages behind the cheeks, nose and eyes are swollen. This swelling may be the result of a cold, allergies or other sinus irritations. Most people find that sinus headache pain is worse in the morning and more noticeable when bending forward.
Some researchers believe that migraines and headaches are distinctly different ailments, with different causes. Whatever the cause, migraine sufferers have it the worst. Migraines cause severe pain, changes in vision, sensitivity to light and sound, and even nausea and vomiting. After a few incidents, migraine sufferers learn to recognize the warning signs of an oncoming headache, and may also be able to identify foods or circumstances that trigger an attack.
How to avoid a headache
To avoid headaches in the first place, here are some common recommendations from healthcare professionals:
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol
- Avoid histamines (found in red wine) and nitrates (found in aged cheeses and smoked meats)
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- Stay hydrated – try for 64 oz. of water each day (eight 8 oz. glasses)
- Avoid strong odors from cleaning products, perfume, and fragrant flowers
- Check your posture and take frequent breaks if you work at a desk with a screen, or find yourself sitting in one position for most of the day
- Try to keep stress in check. Remember to keep your shoulders down and relaxed
Popular home remedies for headaches
Everyone is different, and what causes headaches for some (too much caffeine, chocolate) may actually make others feel better.
If you suffer from headaches frequently, you probably have your own self-care regimen. If not, and you are curious about alternatives to pain relievers, here are some popular home remedies that may help reduce the severity and duration of headaches. Be sure to discuss these treatment options with your doctor before trying anything new.
- Applying a cold compress may ease pain for some.
- Sinus headache pain may be relieved by alternating warm and cold compresses.
- Turn down the lights. Resting in a dark room can be helpful, especially for migraine sufferers.
- Have some coffee or tea. Caffeine makes over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and acetaminophen even more effective and may be helpful on its own for reducing headache pain.
- Ginger tea is helpful for some headache sufferers and can also alleviate the nausea that sometimes accompanies a headache.
- Mild exercise like stretching or yoga can help loosen tight muscles and reduce tension.
- Self-massage like rubbing your neck and shoulders can also help.
- Acupressure is very effective for many people, and you can find information online about the different pressure points in the body that may provide headache relief.
One of the easiest things to try to relieve tension headaches is the Hegu pressure point in your hand.
- Firmly pinch the area between your thumb and forefinger, but not enough to cause pain.
- Apply pressure for 10 seconds then release.
- Rub the area with your thumb in a circular motion for 10 seconds.
- Reverse the direction and rub for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat on your opposite hand.
Hopefully, one of the home remedies described here will help make your next headache shorter and less severe. If you suffer from headaches frequently and haven’t seen a doctor to determine the cause, a quick call or virtual visit may offer some relief and peace of mind.