Headaches have become increasingly common. While many headaches are caused by medical conditions, a great many of them are a result of problems like stress, dehydration, or sleep deprivation. There are a number of over-the-counter medications you can use to help deal with headaches, but they treat the symptoms, not the cause. Instead, look into more natural headache remedies that can address the underlying causes behind your headache.
Here’s a list of fixes that can help you get to the heart of the matter and stamp your headache out at its source.
1. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can be the cause of a number of health problems, including headaches. Giving yourself 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night can go a long way toward reducing incidents of headaches. One sleep improvement hack that helps is committing to a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at regular times to give your body a routine to manage your sleep cycle. It’s also a good idea to avoid stimulants before bed, like alcohol, sweets, or coffee. These foods can keep the body active when it should be winding down. Finally, do something relaxing to help soothe yourself before bedtime. Curling up with a good book or taking a hot bath before bed are just a few things you can try to get yourself ready for a good night’s sleep.
2. Drink plenty of water
Common wisdom suggests that it’s a good idea to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and the same wisdom applies to preventing headaches. Dehydration is a common cause of tension headaches and migraines, so stay hydrated. Dehydration can also impair concentration and cause irritability, which can compound a headache.
While you’re at it, be careful of what other drinks you take in to minimize the chances of an attack. Coffee and alcoholic drinks can dehydrate the body, so consider starting the day with a mix of half-caffeinated and half-decaffeinated coffee, then drink some water first before taking any more cups of coffee.
3. Try massage therapy
A massage is a simple but effective remedy for chronic and severe headaches. In many cases, you can massage your forehead, neck, or temples to relieve tension and alleviate some of the pain. However, for more persistent headaches, consider massage therapy. Massage therapy with a professional can go a long way toward relieving the underlying muscle tension behind many headaches.
A good massage can also deal with a number of health issues, like chronic pain, sleeping disorders, and stress. Keep in mind that there are different massage therapies available (e.g. Swedish, deep tissue, and shiatsu) that can offer relief with different issues. Read up on different treatments to find one that can effectively address your particular problem.
4. Apply a hot/cold compress
Hot and cold compresses can work as remedies for different types of headaches. For headaches with radiating pain, like migraines, place a cold compress on the spot where the pain originates. The cold helps decrease inflammation, slow nerve conduction, and restrict blood flow, all of which can alleviate the symptoms of a migraine.
To relieve a tension headache, use heat treatments instead. Tension headaches often manifest as a dull, aching head pain and a feeling of tightness around the forehead. Apply a hot compress or a heated towel over the neck and shoulders to relax the muscles and relieve the tension.
5. Practice relaxation exercises
Stress is a common cause of headaches, but using relaxation techniques like yoga or breathing exercises are an effective strategy to help deal with the issue. Exercise, in general, is good for relieving stress, and yoga is a particularly effective one you can use. Yoga helps relax the body and muscles, which goes a long way toward keeping the muscles loose. Tense muscles are often caused by stress, so any exercises that counter stress are particularly effective at helping you stay more fit physically and mentally.
Alternatively, you can use deep breathing exercises to deal with tension and cluster headaches. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted for a few minutes. Take slow, rhythmic breaths, breathing in for 5 seconds, then out for 5 seconds. As you breathe, your muscles start to loosen. Another exercise that can help with stress is focusing on the major muscle groups in the body. Start with the toes and work your way up.
6. Adjust your diet
What you eat can have major effects on headaches. Certain compounds in food can act as triggers. Some examples include chocolate, processed foods, and strong cheese. Different people have different triggers, so it can help to keep track of what you eat to give yourself some warning. Consider keeping a headache diary to help remember what you ate the day of a headache. Use the diary to help avoid those foods most likely to trigger an attack in the future.
Another thing you can add to your diet is herbal teas. Drinking these teas is a good way to start winding down at night, improving your sleep quality. They also have pain- and stress-relieving properties, which can go a long way toward preventing future headaches.
7. Use aromatherapy
Certain essential oils are another great home remedy to relieve headaches. These oils can help relax the nerves that cause a headache, taking care of the problem at its source and giving you some relief. Peppermint and lavender oil in particular are effective solutions for soothing some of the worst symptoms of a headache.
One way to use essential oils is to apply them to your temples and forehead, then lie back and let the scent help you relax. For maximum effect, rest in a dark, cool, and quiet room where you can feel at ease. If you have a vaporizer, you can also try adding 7 drops of lavender oil and three of peppermint oil, then breathe the mixture in. Alternatively, sprinkle a few drops of peppermint oil onto a tissue, then inhale deeply a few times.
Many ailments like headaches stem from pain and tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. At Fairway Chiropractic Centre, we offer non-invasive treatments to help address those aches and pains and give you long-term relief. We’re here to restore your mobility and wellness, and help improve your quality of life. Give us a call now at (519) 748-5535 to make an appointment.