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At home remedies for headaches

Updated on March 16, 2007

Headaches are the number one cause of pain in the world. They can be very mild and disappear within a short space of time, or they can be excruciatingly painful and last for hours. Home remedies for headaches have been known to alleviate the pain. There are numerous remedies that can be very effective in relieving the pain of a headache.

The Three Kinds of Headaches

Although there are nearly two dozen types of headaches, they all fall into three basic categories: tension, vascular, and organic.

Tension headaches

These are the most common type of headache, and it causes a dull, non-throbbing pain, usually accompanied by tightness in the scalp or neck. Triggers range from depression to everyday stresses such as screaming kids and traffic jams.

Vascular headaches

These are more intense, severe, throbbing, and piercing: They take first prize for pain. Cluster and migraine headaches fall into this category. Triggers for cluster headaches are unknown, although excessive smoking and alcohol consumption can ignite them. Migraines are thought to be caused by heredity, diet, stress, menstruation, and environmental factors such as cigarette smoke.

Organic headaches

These are the least common, and pain becomes increasingly worse and is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting, coordination problems, visual disturbances, or speech or personality changes. Triggers include tumors, infections, or diseases of the brain, eyes, ears, and nose.

The good news is, most headaches will respond to at home remedies, try one or several of the solutions below.

Home Remedies that Help

Take two

For that once-or-twice-a-month tension headache, aspirin or one of the many over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs may work well. Just don't use aspirin more than 3 times a month far a headache or it could make it worse in the long run, or cause other medical problems. If you do decide to use aspirin for a headache, take it right away, at the beginning of the headache. Otherwise, it may not do you much good.

Exercise

Exercise is useful as a preventive measure, and it can also be used to help a headache, if you have a slight tension headache, you can probably end it if you exercise. But don't exercise if it's severe. You'll just make your head hurt more, especially if you're suffering a migraine.

Sleep

A lot of people sleep a headache off. But don't oversleep. It's tempting, but avoid sleeping in on the weekend, you're more likely to wake up with a headache, experts say. Also, avoid napping if you don't have a headache. While a nap may rid you of an existing headache, you don't want to nap if you're headache-free.

Try cold/heat

Try a cold pack or a heating pad, different people respond differently, so either cold of heat might work for you. Some people like the feeling of cold against their foreheads or necks and for them it seems to help; while others prefer hot showers or putting heat on their necks.

Breathe deeply

Deep breathing is a great tension reliever. Make sure you are doing it correctly though, you are doing it right if your stomach is moving more than your chest.

Use your hands

Both self-massage and acupressure can help. Two key points for reducing pain with acupressure are the web between your forefinger and thumb (squeeze there until you feel pain) and under the bony ridges at the back of the neck (use both thumbs to apply pressure there).

Wear a headband

Wearing a headband will decrease blood flow to the scalp and lessen the throbbing and pounding of a migraine.

Stay away from perfume

Strong perfume can set off migraine. Try to avoid strong fragrance smells, if you feel that you have gotten a headache because of a scent, remove the scent from your presence immediately.

Seek quiet.

Excessive noise is a common trigger for tension headaches.

Protect your eyes

Bright light, be it from the sun, fluorescent lighting, television, or a video display terminal, can lead to squinting, eyestrain, and, finally, headache. Sunglasses are a good idea if you're going to be outside. If you're working inside, take some rest breaks from the computer screen and also wear some type of tinted glasses.

Watch your caffeine intake

If you don't get your daily dosage of caffeine, your blood vessels will dilate, possibly giving you a headache. Too much caffeine will also give you a headache, so try to limit yourself to two cups (or one mug) of coffee a day.

Don't chew gum

The repetitive chewing motion can tighten muscles and bring on a tension headache.

Go easy on the salt

High salt intake can trigger migraines in some people.

Eat on time

Skipping or delaying meals can cause headaches two ways. A missed meal can cause muscle tension, and, when blood sugar drops from lack of food, the blood vessels of the brain tighten. When you eat again, they expand, leading to headache.

Curtail the cocktails.

One alcoholic drink probably won't hurt, but don't go overboard. Also, some liquors contain tyramine, which triggers headaches.

For high altitudes, take vitamin C

High altitudes can trigger a headache. But taking vitamin C before and during that next ski trip can help you adjust.

A lot of these remedies are both preventative measures and cures for headaches, and these remedies also help in other areas as well. Your brain is the most important thing for body function and it is an indictor of what is going on in your body, so pay attention to it- if you have a headache try to figure out the source and avoid it in the future, and if your have repetitive headaches it is important that you see a doctor.

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