5 Proven & Effective Tips To Reduce Your Head Pain

Let’s face it; we all get headaches. A headache can be a burden to our daily lives, whether it’s a clinically diagnosed primary headache such as a cluster, tension, or migraine headache, a secondary headache, or innocuous head pain that generally goes away in due time. Fortunately, there are many treatments that can ease head pain without a trip to the doctor or drugstore and we’d like to share five of our favorite tips. Nonetheless, if you believe you are experiencing a headache as a result of a disease/condition (i.e. secondary headache) or feel that you may be having one of the three primary headaches, please consult your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to treat your headache in the most effective way. Also, though these tips are more for non-life threatening headaches, please talk to your doctor before implementing any of these tips.

Take Medication in Moderation

Walk into any pharmacy and you will be bombarded with a number of medications offering pain relief. Picking the right one will vary from person to person and each one has its risks. But to get the most benefit from an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is right for you with the least risk, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid OTC’s that contain caffeine or multiple ingredients for these may cause ‘rebound’ headaches.
  • Choose liquid over pills. Your body will be able to absorb the active ingredient much more readily.
  • Be prophylactic and take a painkiller as soon as you feel pain. Start with the recommended, even a smaller, dose and see how you respond.
  • Take an OTC only when you are experiencing pain. Taking a drug for too long or too often may actually make your condition worse, not better.

Make Friends With Darkness

For some people bright, flickering, and ambient light have been shown to exacerbate symptoms of a migraine. If you are someone who is sensitive to light, cover your windows with special blackout curtains during the day. Wear sunglasses both indoors and out. You might also add anti-glare screens to your computer and use daylight-spectrum fluorescent bulbs in your light fixtures. Last but certainly not least, try to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone, especially closer to your bedtime.

Liberate the Tension From Your Head

People who were ponytails can vouch for us when we say a tight ponytail may lead to a headache. If your ponytail is too tight, it could cause a headache. So, if you’re prone to getting “external compression headaches”, avoid wearing items such as tight hats, headbands, glasses, sunglasses, and (you guessed it) hair ties to reduce your chances of getting a headache. In fact, one study found that over 50% of participants who loosened their hair experienced their head pain reduce with some noting their headache disappeared all together.

Spit Out Your Gum

Chewing gum can hurt not just your jaw, but your head as well. The same is true for chewing your fingernails, lips, the inside of your cheeks, or objects such as pens. Do your best to limit crunchy and sticky foods making sure you take small bites. If you suffer from a condition known as bruxism (night grinding), talk to your healthcare provider about getting a mouth guard or participating in therapy. Research has shown than individuals who participate in cognitive behavioral therapy were able to reduce clenching their jaw, leading to a reduction in headaches.

Icy Hot: Not Just A Catchy Name

We’re sorry if our title misled you. We are not talking about the pain cream ICYHOT®, but we are referring to alternating between hot and cold packs to ameliorate symptoms of a headache. If you are having a headache, specifically a migraine, compress a cold pack on your forehead for approximately 15-minutes followed by a 15-minute break. Try to repeat this cycle up to three times. If you experience tension headaches, place a heating pad on your neck or the back of your head. If you have a sinus headache, hold a warm cloth to the area that hurts. Allowing warm water to run down your head and back as in a warm shower may also be effective in reducing the headache. What other tips and tricks have helped you reduce head pain? Lets us know!

Tags: headache, primary headache, secondary headache, over-the-counter, migraine, bruxism, pain management

References:

  1. Bader G, Lavigne GJ. Sleep bruxism; an overview of an oromandibular sleep movement disorder. Sleep Medicine Reviews 2000;4:27-43.
  2. Blau, J. N. (2004), Ponytail Headache: A Pure Extracranial Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 44: 411–413. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2004.04092.x
  3. Offenbächer M., Stucki G. Physical therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Scandinavian Journal Of Rheumatology Vol. 29 , Iss. 113,2000
  4. Sheftell, F. Role And Impact Of Over-The-Counter Medications In the Management of Headache. of Neurologic Clinics. W. B. Saunders Company. Elsevier Inc. 1997
  5. Thompson BA, Blount BW, Krumholz TS. Treatment approaches to bruxism. Am Fam Physician 1994;49:1617-22.