If you are looking for possible ways to get rid of a headache, then in all probability you are suffering from one at this point of time. How to stop a headache is one of the most queried in healthcare today. This is best addressed by first understanding as to what causes a headache. Statistics indicate that most people will experience at least one episode of a headache in their lifetime.
What is a headache
As the name suggests a headache is defined as an ache or a pain in the head which may or may not radiate to other regions like the neck, face or eyes. The World Health Organization is of the opinion that at least 47% of the world population would have suffered from this relatively common medical condition at least once in the last year.
Authority sites like MedicineNet have opined that headaches seldom occur in isolation and may be associated with emotional or physiological conditions. Some of the common emotional causes for headaches are stress and anxiety.
On the contrary, physiological conditions such as an increase in blood pressure may be commonly associated with severe headaches which refuse to go away unless the hypertension is controlled and the blood pressure returns to near normal levels.
What causes headaches
Headaches are best classified depending on what causes them:
- Primary Headaches
- Secondary Headaches
These headaches usually occur in isolation and can be attributed to over activity or malfunctioning of structures in the brain which are pain sensitive. This could include structures such as muscles, nerves and blood vessels which are located in the head region.
Some of the variants of primary headaches are migraine, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and even trigeminal neuralgias. Statistics indicate that 30 to 90 percent of all primary headaches are due to tension headaches.
Tension headaches are also known as muscle contraction headaches. Tension headaches occur when unusual muscle contractions lead to a perceptible tightening in the region of the temples on both sides of the head.
Tension headaches are unrelated to exertion or physical stress and experts believe that these headaches are invariably an outcome of emotional stress and unhealthy lifestyles.
Conversely, migraine headaches are yet another important cause of headaches, and affects women more than men. This is more than validated by the fact that 18% women are affected while only 6 % men contract migraine.
This is a type of headache which is relatively easy to diagnose considering that the majority of patients would present with an ‘aura’ or a premonition that a migraine will strike in the next few hours.
Cluster headaches are yet another variant that deserves mention, although a relatively rare condition, the symptoms can be disconcerting. The pain is severe and may be localized to the region around the orbits and the temporal region. However, numbers are reassuring that only one in thousand people contract cluster headaches.
If you have excluded these then you could look for some of the very specific causes which can trigger off a primary headache.
Physical stimuli like very hot or cold temperatures can precipitate the onset of primary headaches.
Secondary headaches have a known cause. Statistics indicate that secondary headaches are far more common than the primary variant.
The causes may include glaucoma, eating ice cream, carbon monoxide poisoning, stroke, influenza and even dehydration.
Ways to get rid of a headache fast
If you have frequent bouts and are wondering what to do when you have a headache, do not fret, we have the right answers for you:
47 million Americans would have suffered from a severely debilitating headache in the last three months. This is indeed an eye opener, considering that the condition is far more frequent than one would have believed.
On the other hand, conventional pain killers are not effective in one third of those diagnosed with the condition. Thus, it is not surprising that an increasing number of patients are now turning to natural options.
The good news is that natural remedies have proved to be more beneficial although results may vary form one individual to another depending on age, gender and type of headache.
Some of the more popular natural options may well include one or more of these:
This is best classified as a behavioral therapy that has become increasingly popular as a viable alternative to pain killers and non steroidal anti–inflammatory drugs. This technique works on the concept of capturing vital data and feeding it back to the patient using visual and auditory aids.
To further elaborate if one is suffering from a headache, all that is needed to do this is to attach some electrodes and devices to record pulse rate, blood pressure, skin temperature and even muscle tension.
This ancient Chinese technique needs no introduction and is one of the most popular alternative treatment options for getting rid of a headache. Conceptually thin needles are inserted just under the skin to align the energy lines running across the body.
The fact that acupuncture can reverse headaches as effectively as drugs without side effects makes it a viable option.
Thus, if you are suffering from a migraine headache or even a tension headache, the probability is that acupuncture would be equally effective in reversing ailment.
Massage has been in use in the East since times immemorial and the results are encouraging. Depending on the type of headache that one is suffering from, gentle massaging of the temples, head, neck and even the shoulders can take the pain away.
The only limitation being that massage therapies seldom give long lasting results; and one would need to repeat the therapy several times a day.
When it comes to efficacy of this treatment, it would greatly depend on the type of headache one is experiencing at that point of time. To illustrate the case in point, if the headache is throbbing in nature, then it is probably a vascular headache and will definitely respond to a massage therapy.
These headaches are essentially characterized by dilatation and constriction of the vessels which supply the muscles and tissues of the head and neck region. Thus when one massages the affected area, it can ease and relax the muscles and minimizing pain symptoms.
It may indeed come as a surprise to some that aerobic options like walking, swimming, and biking can help reverse headaches, particularly if the context is migraine headaches.
In simple terms, if you adopt an aerobic regime then ensure that you exercise at least three times a week. The heart rate must be kept over 100 beats a minute continuously for fifteen minutes per session.
The preferred time for aerobic workouts is early morning rather than late evening. The logic is simple; if you workout during evening hours then you could be altering your sleeping pattern which in turn would aggravate headaches.
Experts think that one must keep evening hours for ‘winding down’ rather than ‘revving up’ the system.
Exercise caution while working out when suffering from a headache. The intensity should be moderate and not intense so that profuse sweating is avoided. When one sweats profusely, it is a distinct possibility that dehydration may occur to further aggravating the condition.
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to get rid of a headache. This is one of the techniques which has taken preventive and curative healthcare by storm in recent years. Meditation is known to be particularly valuable to treat headaches regardless of the cause.
Meditation enhances focus and the ability to concentrate while concurrently calming the mind. Thus, it is no surprise that distractions such as chronic headaches tend to disappear when one adopts meditation as a way of life.
If medical literature is of any significance, it has now been documented that spiritual meditation can help raise the pain threshold as well as reduce the frequency of headaches that one normally experiences.
Hence, it could well be concluded that this is one of the mind and body connection techniques which are here to stay and will continue to relieve innumerable headaches without side effects.
If meditation connects mind and body, yoga is the synergy between body postures and meditation, making it a far more powerful tool as compared to the more conventional meditation option.
It has been observed in recent times that yoga is particularly effective in controlling and reversing headaches. Yoga can create the perfect balance between mind, body, and spirit to ensure total relaxation.
People looking for a scientific logic, may find it fascinating that yoga can treat tension headaches very quickly as it can increase the circulation of blood to the brain.
When one adopts a yoga pose wherein the head is lower than the rest of the body, it results in a perceptible increase in circulation of blood to the brain and headache related symptoms begin to recede.
Alternatively, stress related headaches can also be reversed by using the right yoga postures which help to stretch the muscles.
Relaxation and Exercise
Studies indicate that relaxations exercises can induce better sleep during the night and can help to control and treat headaches.
Relaxation exercises could be as simple as listening to music and deep breathing, or complex when they adopt mental imagery as an aid.
On the contrary, conventional exercises like working out at the neighborhood gym or going for a run can be equally beneficial. Researchers have now concluded that when one exercises, stress is reversed and cholesterol levels drop.
Concurrently, the threshold for pain changes and headache symptoms will subside without the use of conventional medications. The logic being that when we exercise, there is a significant change in the level of various chemicals in the body. Pain relieving chemicals such as endorphins are released in large quantities and the threshold for pain alters and one may not need medications to relieve headaches.
There is yet another important chemical called encephalin which can control headaches effectively.
Heat and Ice
The preferred treatment will depend on the type of headache. If the headache is accompanied by tight neck muscles then the pain would subside if these muscles become relaxed. Apply heat locally until the muscles begin to relax. This technique may need to be repeated several times for optimal results.
If your headache is a tension headache, place the ice pack on the pulsating temples. The major artery which supplies the lining of the brain is located just under the skin in the region of the temples. This area is invariably irritated and inflamed due to the strong pulsations and applying ice will reduce the inflammation as well as the pulsation of the arteries.
Changing lifestyles and spending long periods in front of a computer screen has resulted in people leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. What makes it even more disconcerting is the fact that the posture adopted is of a slouch rather than sitting erect. This would lead to unnecessary straining of the muscle and concurrent straining of the neck.
Experts believe that tension headaches are usually associated with muscle contractions in the neck region. When one opts for posture correction; the muscles in the region of the neck relax and reverse the symptoms commonly associated with tension headaches.
Use an ergonomically designed chair and sit in an upright position. The shoulders should be kept open and the neck position must be neutral instead of straining forward.
There is more to caffeine than being a merely invigorating beverage. This is more than validated by the fact that caffeine can reverse and cure vascular headaches. To reiterate the case in point, vascular headaches are best diagnosed due to the presence of a pounding sensation in the temples.
This happens due to the alternating contraction and expansion of the blood vessels which supply the region of the head and the neck. When caffeine is administered, vascular headaches subside very quickly. Caffeine is known to arrest and block the dilatation of the blood vessels
Migraine is one specific type of headache which is relatively common as well. Migraine attacks when the demands that are placed on the nerve endings are very high. Thus, the nerve cells are unable to produce an adequate amount of energy within the nerve cells.
Riboflavin can help to boost energy production within the nerve cells. This helps to reverse the symptoms of migraines or other vascular headaches.
Headaches of both primary and secondary origin can be equally disconcerting. Using the right strategic options could well lead to a healthy existence devoid of headaches and headache like symptoms.