How to get rid of stress headaches? One out of every three people have experienced a stress headache in their life. A stress headache continues to be one of the common concern points in the developed and developing economies alike. Stress headaches are not new to mankind and experts have debated the issue for decades.
Can stress cause headaches
Well the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes’. Hectic schedules and tight deadlines have lead to increasingly stressful lifestyles for most working individuals. Thus, it is not surprising that stress headaches are on the rise with an increasing number of people reaching out for the over-the-counter pain killers.
What makes it all the more disconcerting is the fact that the higher the level of stress, the greater is the frequency of headaches. Thus, we could well conclude that stress induced headaches are here to stay, unless we find effective ways of combating stress.
What are stress headaches
The answer could not be simpler; if you have been suffering from a headache which is mild to moderate in intensity and is accompanied by stiff or contracted neck muscles, you could be suffering from a stress headache.
If you have just got through a particularly stressful situation and are now suffering from a relatively severe headache, then in all probability the diagnosis could be a stress headache.
Symptoms of stress headache
Symptoms of stress headaches include:
The intensity of pain is relatively moderate and it usually originates in the region of the forehead. It is not unusual for this pain to spread to other parts of the head, the preferred region of spread being the side of the head.
Typically people diagnosed with the disease would best define the experience as a band like pain which involves the entire head.
In some instances this pain is known to radiate beyond the head extending to the muscles of the neck and the back in some instances.
The duration can vary with one experiencing a relatively low intensity headache for a period as short as 30 minutes. On the contrary, you may even experience a moderate intensity headache which may extend to a week; making it a particularly disconcerting condition.
In instances where the episodes continue to repeat for more than fifteen days a month, it is invariably classified as a chronic headache. Conversely, when the duration is less than fifteen days, the condition is better connoted as acute.
Stress induced headaches – The cause
Although the exact cause of stress headaches is yet to be determined, experts are of the opinion that there are multiple factors responsible for this potentially incapacitating condition:
Enhanced Stress Levels
Studies have concluded that stress levels are closely linked with headaches.
When exposed to stress for long periods of time, one may begin to experience a perceptible tightening or tightening of the muscles of the scalp and the neck region.
Poor body postures like straining the neck or even sitting still for long periods of time can trigger an attack of stress headaches. To illustrate the case in point, if you have been sitting in the same posture and working for long periods of time, you will strain your head and neck muscles abnormally. This will trigger off an attack of stress headaches.
The Alcohol Perspective
‘Headache the next day’ is a common occurrence for those who consume alcohol regardless of frequency or quantity. These types of stress headaches are caused due to quick or excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The mechanics are simple, considering that a glass of beer may lead to dilatation of the blood vessels which supply the body as well as the brain. This sudden dilatation of the blood vessels may present as a generalized flushing of the skin, accompanied by severe stress headaches every time one consumes beer or wine.
When you consume red wine, the body also consumes an important amino acid known as Tyramine which can trigger stress headaches. The long term mechanics are different:
Alcohol significantly increases the formation of urine, hence leads to an increased loss of fluid over a short period of time. This unique property has led to alcohol being classified as a strong diuretic.
Although, alcohol is known to precipitate an attack, studies have concluded that the effect is indirect. When one consumes alcohol, it results in disturbed sleep patterns and enhanced anxiety states which in turn can trigger an attack.
One of the common causes is skipping of meals. Although, one may consider skipping of meals as a relatively innocuous and harmless activity, this could not be further from the truth.
Experts are of the opinion that when one skips a meal, the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed, decreases significantly. This then leads to lower circulating glucose levels in the bloodstream. The brain like other organs gets a lower amount of this energy producing constituent.
The human brain needs a continuous flow of glucose through the bloodstream if it is to continue functioning optimally. When the blood glucose flow decreases, stress headaches surface.
Exercise – Bane or Boon
Contrary to popular belief exercise is not always beneficial. Studies in recent times have now concluded that overexertion or rigorous exercise regimes can trigger stress headaches.
Experts advocate cutting back on your exercise regime or modifying the schedule so that the intensity level is moderate and the frequency is in the periphery of three times a week.
Typically, if you have been experiencing a distressing headache whenever you exercise for more than 40 minutes which refuses to subside even with pain killers, there is a distinct possibility that you are suffering from a stress headache.
It is even possible that your basic technique or the position of the head while working out may not be correct. In simple terms, if you do not maintain a normal neutral position of the head while jogging or working out, it is possible that you would strain your neck muscles excessively. This in turn may aggravate an attack of stress induced headaches.
The Caffeine Debate
Caffeine is not new to mankind and was first used by man way back in the fifteenth century as a central nervous system stimulant. This is one stimulant that works as a double edged therapeutic drug when used in small quantities. It could well be considered as a wonder drug to control and even reverse headaches.
On the contrary, habitual caffeine consumers may well experience a severe headache when the stimulant is removed from the diet abruptly. Documented studies indicate that sudden caffeine withdrawal may even lead to a rebound headache.
According to industry experts at Healthline, smoking has been known to trigger and even aggravate stress headaches, thus giving you yet another reason to stop smoking. When one smokes, the carbon dioxide concentration in the brain increases while the oxygen levels drop drastically, leading to stress headaches.
Tobacco is a rich source of nicotine which in turn can constrict the blood vessels that supply the brain, leading to severe stress headaches. Concurrently, tobacco can even irritate and stimulate the nerve endings located at the back of the throat, leading to headaches.
This is more than validated by the fact that smokers are twice as likely to develop stress headaches as compared to those who do not smoke.
How to get rid of stress headaches fast and naturally
There is more to controlling stress headaches rather than just popping pain killers to neutralize the effect
The Cayenne Reversal
Cayenne needs no introduction, this is one natural option which has been used by naturalists all over the world. The rising popularity of this therapeutic wonder is a particularly powerful pain killer which also has some significant anti–inflammatory properties.
Cayenne is more than a mere spicy supplement, it contains a chemical known as capsaicin which inhibits the secretion of substance P. Substance P is responsible for pain sensations in the body. Cayenne works best on topical application.
How to relieve stress headache with cayenne
Add ½ teaspoon of Cayenne powder to 4 ounces of water and stir till the powder dissolves.
Use a clean cotton swab and apply the solution to the inner side of both nostrils. The results are amazing, the headache will subside very quickly.
Cayenne is particularly useful as a pain killer as well as an inflammation reliever and continues to be one of the most popular options to date.
Almonds need no introduction either, considering that they have been an integral part of healthy diets since times immemorial. Thus, the next time you begin to experience a stress headache, avoid reaching out for pain pills and opt for a handful of almonds.
Almonds contain a chemical called salicin which is a particularly effective pain reliever.
The Feverfew Initiative
Stress headaches work on the concept of expanding blood vessels in the head and exerting unusual pressure on nerve endings. This leads to a mild to moderate intensity pain which is typically found in this condition.
When the Feverfew plant extract is used, it leads to a significant relaxing of the blood vessels which supply the brain. This will release the pressure on the nerve endings.
There is yet another mechanism of action responsible for the relief of pain in stress induced headaches; feverfew contains a specific substance called parthenolide which is responsible for pain relief.
This therapeutically active chemical is an active constituent of aspirin. Thus, using feverfew is like taking aspirin but without the associated side effects.
Apple Cider Vinegar Relief
Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV, as it is more commonly connoted, is arguably the wonder remedy of contemporary times. There cannot be a disease condition which does not respond to this versatile mix.
How to relieve a stress headache with ACV
The preferred option is to use it as a compress or a steam application.
Add ¼ of a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar to three cups of boiling water in a large bowl.
Drape a large clean towel over the head and simultaneously cover the bowl with the towel. This will create a small space which traps the steam. Breathe in deeply and keep the process going for 10 minutes for optimal results.
Fish for Health
Fish options are the new age wonder which can reverse a stress headache when consumed.
Fish oil is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which helps reverse inflammation and pain commonly associated with stress headaches. It can even minimize the irritation of the nerve endings.
Although it may not have the most exotic of tastes. When a tablespoon of fish oil is mixed with a glass of orange juice the results are favorable and the taste acceptable.
Monosodium Glutamate or MSG, as it is better known, is commonly added to food to enhance the flavor. This chemical can trigger a stress headache or even aggravate an existing one. It is critical that you check the food labels for MSG when opting for a particular food.
The Butterbur Connect
Butterbur has been in use for reversing stress headaches by Native Americans since ancient times.
Butterbur is a strong beta blocker which can regulate the flow of blood to the brain without allowing the vessels to spasm or contract.
Hydrate for Health
One of the lesser known facts is that beverages like coffee and alcohol can lead to a severe dehydration which can trigger an attack of stress headaches. Naturalists and physicians advocate drinking plenty of water everyday.
Drink plenty of water and continue to sip the clear fluid throughout the day.
Final thoughts on how to get rid of stress headaches
It could well be concluded that hectic lifestyles and high pressure living has lead to an increasing incidence of stress headaches in recent times. Conventional medications can help reverse the pain; however they are invariably accompanied by unpleasant side effects.
Thus, the pick of options is to adopt some or more of the numerous natural options present which can return equally encouraging results.