Headaches can be a real pain, especially when they come out of nowhere or their occurrence is all too frequent. The worst part is that even if you lead an extremely healthy lifestyle, you may still be subject to headaches because they can be passed from generation to generation. It can be just a mild annoyance or pain so severe that you are out of commission for a few days at a time. It’s no wonder why you’d want to learn how to get rid of a headache fast.
Why Do We Get Headaches
Interestingly enough, headaches are not actually aches of the head. Brains don’t even feel pain. When you stub your toe, hit your funny-bone, or get a headache, your nervous system has sent a message to your brain. Your brain takes in this information and outputs another signal called pain. In the case of toe-stubbing or funny-bone-hitting, it was these actions that created the pain. In the case of headaches, it’s actually the muscles, nerves, blood vessels surrounding the head and neck area that are the catalyst. With that in mind, understand that there are many different factors that can cause headaches.
Common causes of headaches
There are more than just a few different types of headaches. In fact, according to WebMD, there are at currently 150 established categories. What causes headaches is a wide range. But the good news is, the different types and their causes can be categorized.
Acute is another way of saying severe. These types of headaches are usually in reference to children and specifically their first headaches. The symptoms are also usually quick to subside. It can be brought on illness such as fever, bacteria, viruses, sinus pressure or inflammations, sore throat, and ear infection. Acute headaches often end in a trip to the emergency room or pediatrician. However, if results for abnormal neurological activity come back negative and the symptoms have disappeared, common causes for this type of headache are often times an infection of the respiratory or sinus nature.
Cluster headaches are less common than most of the other kinds of headaches, but it makes up for it in pain. These types of headaches are characterized by intense and extreme pain as a type of piercing or burning. The pain is reported to be behind one eye or the other, or simply in the area around the eye, but it doesn’t move from side to side. Many sufferers of this type of headache experience pain so great that they are unable to sit and they often pace. Cluster headaches are named after their method of onset: a series or cluster of attacks. During a period, the sufferer may experience up to 3 attacks per day from 2 weeks to 3 months in length. Cluster headaches are also known to go into remissions for months and even years before resurfacing.
Another name for them is inflammatory headaches. With chronic, progressive headaches, they increase in frequency and severity over time. These types of headaches are the least common type and chronic headaches may be an indication of a serious complication such as a brain illness or disorder.
Hormone headaches emerge as the result of changing hormone levels. This can occur in women as a result of menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause and even birth control pills.
Migraine headaches are characterized by medium to extreme pain. Some have called it a throbbing or pounding. Others report that it’s felt like someone was hammering away at their skull. These types of headache last at least 4 hours, up to 3 days. People with a disposition towards migraine headaches may even experience from 1-4 migraines in a single month. Other symptoms of migraines include sensitivity to light, sound, smells, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. It is unclear what the specific causes of migraines are but reports of bright lights, loud sounds, changes in weather, and smells have been known to cause them. But, it is to know that migraines are hereditary and sometimes too much activity can be the catalyst for a migraine.
Mixed Headaches (Transformed Headaches)
This surly duo is what happens when a migraine headache meets a tension headache. It results in medium to extreme chronic or daily pain.
Sinus headaches are characterized by a deeply embedded pain in the area of the bridge of the nose, the cheekbones and the forehead. They are usually brought on by sinus infections.
Tension Headaches are the most common and are characterized by light to medium pain for an extended period of time. They are sometimes referred to as chronic daily or chronic non-progressive headaches due to tension or stress. This can be stressors such as work, school, tests or exams, secondhand tobacco smoke, allergens, perfumes and even food. Other causes for tension headaches are dehydration, high caffeine intake, caffeine withdrawal, missing meals, hangovers from alcohol, or in some cases, specifically drinking red wine.
How To Get Rid Of A Headache Fast At Home
Over-the-Counter medicines are usually what people turn to first if they need quick relief. This is not the only way. A high majority of minor headaches can be treated by returning the body to balance. This means taking care of yourself. It means taking time to relief stress, eating and drinking enough of the right food and fluids. It may even mean making lifestyle changes to what you eat and drink and how much. Of course, even the healthiest person can still get a headache from time to time. So if you’re looking for headache home remedies, here we have listed 19 steps to consider.
For starters, you can chug a glass of water. Dehydration accounts for a large number of headaches. Not only this, but drinking sports drinks will not only hydrate you, but they can also help replenish your body with nutrients and electrolytes.
A cold ice pack to your forehead can help shrink blood vessels, subsequently numbing the pain. This shrinkage will also help the circulation in that area. For sinus pressure headaches and tension headaches, the ice pack method is effective. If you don’t have an ice pack, you can put some ice cubes in a thin towel or you can simply put a cold piece of cloth to your head and temples for about 10 minutes at a time. Even a cold bag of vegetables will serve well as an ice pack.
Hot water works wonders on tension headaches caused specifically by stress. A hot water bag on the back of the neck, or hot water on the neck helps to relieve stress and the headache.
You can also fill a large enough bucket with the hottest water you can stand. Put your hands in the bucket of hot water for headache relief and improved circulation. Keep your hands in the water for 10 to 15 minutes for the best results. Dipping your legs in the bucket for 10 minutes before bed can help with chronic headaches.
Eating a fistful of almonds can cure a headache in 10 to 15 minutes due to their pain-relieving chemicals.
If it’s a morning headache that you have, you can sprinkle some salt on a piece or slice of apple and eat it. Follow this up with a glass of warm water.
Apple cider vinegar also works wonders on headaches. You can make a steam treatment with a bowl of steaming water and about ½ cup of apple cider vinegar. Put a towel over your head to lock in the steam and put your head over the bowl for 10-15 minutes. Another way to get the benefits of apple cider vinegar is to put 2 teaspoons in a cup of water and drink it up to 3 times a day for headache relief. Be aware, though, that apple cider vinegar is acid based and can erode enamel. Some people prefer to brush their teeth before and after drinking apple cider vinegar. Others simply rinse their mouth after using it.
Caffeine is an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain medications, specifically headache medicines. This extra ingredient helps disperse the drug throughout the body so that it has more efficient and faster response time. If your pain medicine doesn’t have caffeine in it, you might consider having a cup of coffee with it.
Ginger has long since been known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can aid in the shrinking of blood vessels and the reduction of swelling similar to using an ice pack. To get the most out of ginger, drink the tea 3-4 times a day and begin drinking it as soon as the headache strikes.
Lemon juice and warm water reduce the intensity of headaches. Especially, when the headache is a result of gas in the intestines, this concoction works to help bring relief. Another way to use lemons for headaches is to make a paste out of the rinds and apply it to the forehead. Last but not least, lemon tea, 3-4 times daily will help give relief to your headache.
Give yourself a massage to relieve stress and tension. These two culprits are high on the list of causes for tension headaches. The places to aim are the ear lobes, neck and scalp. This trick can be used at home or work without looking any sort of crazy. The massage serves to help you relax and improve circulation as well as keep your mind off the pain.
Massaging the bridge of your nose gently, can provide migraine and sinus headache relief. Rubbing your forehead in circles or doing a wet or dry scalp massage also brings relief. For dry scalp massages, coconut or organ oil is great for your hair and it smells good too.
You can use peppermint oil to massage the temples, neck and jaw to help you relax. This works great for relieving stress induced tension headaches.
You can also make a steam treatment from peppermint by adding peppermint oil to a bowl of steaming water. Put a towel on your head, stick your head over the bowl and inhale the steam. This creates a soothing aroma and can help alleviate some of the other symptoms like nausea and vomiting that often accompany headaches.
You can also make a tea of dried peppermint leaves by adding the leaves to boiling water and letting it steep. After you strain it, sweeten it with honey and sip away.
Pressure points are areas on the body, when manipulated they provide effects. An example of this is acupuncture, in which the needles are placed at specific points on the body. If you are looking for a quick headache relief try a few of these exercises:
In the soft, squishy part of your hand between the pointer finger and your thumb, massage that area. You can alternate hands, massaging one hand with the other for five minutes before switching. If you can find someone to massage both hands at the same time, it’s even better. This pressure point is said to contain nerves that are able to shrink forehead blood vessels, providing relief.
Massaging your temples can also help with a headache. Just start by gently pressing your temples and massaging it in slow circles.
This exercise is especially helpful for relieving sinus headaches. If you have two tennis balls or something similar, cover them in a sock. Lie flat and at the back of your neck, just past your skull, place the balls there. The balls should be on the occipital bone to get the most out of this exercise. As you lie with the balls underneath your neck, try to relax. You will feel a minor discomfort but it will pass.
If it’s a type of stress or tension that is causing the headache, relieving that stress or tension will also help to get rid of the headache. You can take a walk. You can count form 1 to 10 slowly. Then count from 10 back down to 1. Here are some other relaxation techniques you can use:
You can try meditation. Before you begin, find a quiet area where you will not be distracted or interrupted. If you need to, you can dim the lights to help you focus. Next, sit on the ground with your legs crossed and your hands facing palm up on your knees. Even while the goal is to relax, sitting with a straight back is important for meditation because it provides improved oxygen circulation. As you sit, you can take deep breaths and focus on your breathing and try to clear your mind. If you don’t prefer to sit on the floor, you can sit in a chair instead. Keep your feet flat on the ground and place your hands, palm up, on your knees. Sit with a straight back as you meditate. Avoid crossing your arms and legs and slouching because you actually close yourself off to the improved oxygen flow and relaxation when sitting this way.
Another type of meditation is visualization. With visualization, you visualize yourself calming down or you visualize getting rid of what stresses you, or you visualize yourself being somewhere that is calming.
For example, imagine that you are on a train. You are not in a rush, it’s very cozy and you are comfortable there. Imagine your stressors as something tangible, like tennis balls or books, or small boxes for example. For greater results, take the time to elaborate on this part, but don’t take too much time. If you have to study for an important test, then that is one stressor. If dealing with your parents, or your in-laws causes you grief, then that is a separate stressor and object aside from the test.
When you have an idea of what your stressors look like, visualize yourself putting them, the stressors (the balls, books, or boxes) in a duffle bag. Once all of your stressors and tension makers are inside this bag and it’s all zipped up… throw it off the train, out the door or window. As you visualize this and become engaged, with practice, this technique can help you to reduce stress, even on a 15 minute break.
Another type of meditation that you can do while at work or in a stressful situation is listen to binaural beats. These can be downloaded in the form of digital media and listened to on your phone or mp3 player. A binaural beat, sometimes referred to as a binaural tone, is two sounds in the same key, vibrating at different frequencies.
When the binaural beat is listened to, at a low to moderate volume with headphones, the mind works to reconcile the two frequencies. Even though binaural beats make the brain work at something, the result is relaxation. Your mind is no longer scrounging for answers to life or life problems; instead it is working to reconcile a tone.
There are many different ways to meditate. Find something that works for you and use it, because there’s a limit on the amount of pain-killers you can take. But there’s no limit on the amount of stress you can receive in a day.
How to Prevent Headaches
Preventing migraines can be tough, but if you recognize the warning signs, take it easy and avoid triggers, you may be able to bypass it. Other types of headaches may require more attention from health professionals. But you aren’t helpless; you can do something to prevent other types of headaches. Most harmless headaches are tension headaches which aren’t just relative to hard situations or circumstances. Dehydrations, missing meals, and body aches and pains can cause tension headaches as well. To prevent tension headaches, you can start by adjusting your posture at work, school, or while studying.
If your posture is simply out of alignment, take the time to see a chiropractor or physical therapist to correct the situation as much as possible. Otherwise, you may continue to suffer headaches. Learn to stretch and make taking breaks a regular, non-negotiable activity. Try to avoid slouching and make sure that your computer, phone, tablet or whatever else you’re looking at is eye level or slightly above.
If you look at computer screens for extended periods of time. Take breaks to give your eyes time to rest and not just every now and again. You can even exercise your eyes by checking out different distances.
Don’t overdo it on the caffeine. If you consistently drink caffeine heavily, on a daily basis and then stop, it’s not uncommon to experience headaches. This is a result of caffeine withdrawal. In this situation, weaning yourself off of caffeine may be a better option to help reduce the risk of headaches.
Too much caffeine can bring on a headache as well. It is often referred to as a “rebound headache”. This results when you are taking pain medication with caffeine and are drinking caffeine throughout the day.
Other ways to prevent headaches are to avoid allergens, irritants, foods or drinks that cause headaches. This includes perfumes, secondhand smoke, aged cheeses, processed deli meats, wine or drinking too much alcohol.
Once you’re sick, you’re sick. But you can reduce your risk of infection by wearing appropriate clothes for the weather, washing your hands a lot and often, getting enough foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and taking vitamins.
Overall, if you want to know how to get rid of a headache fast, pay attention to your health. Issues with your teeth, eyes, posture, muscles, ears, nose and throat could be the culprits for your headaches and all little attention goes a long way. Finding healthy ways to cope with tension will make you stronger in the long run. You will be able to cope for longer periods of time without experiencing negative side effects such as headaches. This means that you’ll be out of commission less often, and you, as a result, will be able to accomplish more.