Home Remedies

How To Get Rid Of A Headache + Types, Causes, And Symptoms

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How To Get Rid Of A Headache + Types, Causes, And Symptoms Hyderabd040-395603080 February 27, 2019

Did you get through a long day of hectic work only to return home with a throbbing headache? Well, not surprising. Many things can cause stress and lead to headache – work deadlines, demanding schedules, traffic jams, etc.

What do you plan to do about the headache? The easiest way is to pop a painkiller. But instead of reaching out for those over-the-counter medications, try home remedies. This article lists the best home remedies that can help relieve troublesome headaches. Keep reading!

Table Of Contents

What Is A Headache?

A headache is one of the most common conditions known to cause pain and discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. In some cases, headaches are mild. However, they can cause immense pain and make it difficult for the affected individual to work or perform other day-to-day activities.

A headache is usually a sign of emotional distress and/or stress. It can also be a result of medical disorders like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or migraine.

Interesting Facts About Headaches

  • There are over 150 types of headaches.
  • 40% or more children develop headaches by the time they turn 7.
  • 3% of these children suffer from migraines.
  • About 28 million Americans suffer from migraine.
  • About 52% of the migraine sufferers remain undiagnosed.

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What Causes A Headache?

Certain triggers are known to cause an unusual brain activity, which further triggers changes in the blood vessels present there.

Although the exact trigger is not yet discovered, a few factors believed to cause a headache are:

  • General illness like a cold, flu, or fever.
  • Health conditions like sinusitis, ear infections, and throat infections can also cause headaches.
  • Emotional stress and/or depression
  • Environment – Your surroundings can also cause a headache. This may include secondhand tobacco smoke, strong scents from perfumes/household chemicals, and certain foods. Pollution, climate changes, loud noises, and bright lighting can also trigger headaches.
  • Genetics – Individuals with a family history of headaches, especially migraine, are at an increased risk of developing a migraine.

A debilitating headache can make you miserable and disrupt your day-to-day activities. And you’d be willing to try anything that will help you get rid of it. Well, you are in luck – because we have some natural remedies that can lend you a helping hand in battling headaches at home.
Take a look

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Natural Ways To Treat Headaches

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Vitamins B-Complex
  3. Cold Compress
  4. Coffee
  5. Green Tea
  6. Ginger Tea
  7. Magnesium
  8. Massage
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar

Home Remedies To Treat Headaches

1. Essential Oils

a. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil or any other carrier oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two to three drops of peppermint oil to one to two teaspoons of any carrier oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it directly to the temples and corners of your forehead.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this as whenever you experience a headache.

Why This Works

Peppermint oil was found to be as effective as paracetamol in treating tension-type headaches (1).

b. Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • A diffuser
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Fill a diffuser with water.
  2. Pour two to three drops of lavender oil into it and switch the device on.
  3. Inhale the pleasant aroma of lavender oil.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 2-3 times daily.

Why This Works

Inhaling the aroma of lavender essential oil can help relieve stress and anxiety and alleviate migraine headaches (2).

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2. Vitamins

Vitamins Pinit

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Vitamins like vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid (a man-made form of vitamin B9) can help prevent frequent migraine attacks.

Some researchers postulated that a deficit in mitochondrial energy reserves or an increase in homocysteine levels could trigger a migraine. This is where the role of the above vitamins comes into play. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid can help in the catalyzation of homocysteine, thus helping in treating migraine headaches (3).

Foods rich in these vitamins include poultry, fish, bread, eggs, vegetables, legumes, cheese, and cereals. You can also take additional supplements for these vitamins after consulting a doctor.

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3. Cold Compress

Cold Compress Pinit

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You Will Need

A cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a cold compress to your temples.
  2. Leave it on for a few minutes and remove.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times daily as adjunctive therapy to other treatments.

Why This Works

A cold compress, when used as adjunctive therapy to other standard treatments for headaches, can be helpful in alleviating the pain (4).

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4. Coffee

Coffee Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of coffee powder
  • 1 cup of water
  • Sugar (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of water to a saucepan and heat it.
  2. Add a tablespoon of coffee powder to the hot water and stir until it dissolves completely.
  3. Turn the stove off. Add milk/sugar to your coffee (if you want).
  4. Drink the warm coffee.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink a cup or two of coffee following a headache or as an adjuvant to other headache medications.

Why This Works

Caffeine possesses mild analgesic properties that can help alleviate symptoms of a headache, especially when used together with another treatment for headache (5).

Caution

Do not overconsume coffee as it can induce caffeine dependency. Once your body becomes too used to caffeine, not taking it can trigger withdrawal symptoms – with headache as the main symptom.

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5. Green Tea

Green Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of green tea (decaffeinated)
  • 1 cup of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of green tea to a cup of hot water.
  2. Steep for 5-7 minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You may drink 1-2 cups of green tea daily.

Why This Works

Green tea possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with headaches (6).

Caution

Do not consume more than two cups of green tea per day.

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6. Ginger Tea

Ginger Tea Pinit

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1-2 inches of sliced ginger
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add 1-2 inches of sliced ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the stove.
  4. Strain the mixture and allow it to cool down for a while.
  5. Drink the warm tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink ginger tea 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

The administration of ginger may exert abortive and prophylactic effects that may help in reducing the pain of migraine headaches (7).

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7. Magnesium

Magnesium Pinit

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Magnesium is a mineral whose deficiency has been associated with migraines. It can also help treat other types of headaches by preventing factors that may increase your risk of developing them (8).

Hence, it is important that you consume foods rich in magnesium like spinach, kale, avocados, bananas, and nuts to get the required amount of the mineral naturally via your diet. If you plan on taking magnesium supplements orally or intravenously, it is best to consult a doctor before doing so.

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8. Massage

Massage Pinit

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Massage therapy is a non-pharmacological alternative to reduce the incidence of headaches. This is especially true in the case of muscle-specific massage therapies that concentrate on specific muscles to relieve the pain. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health confirmed this aspect (9).

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9. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 glass of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
  2. Mix well and drink up.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times a day.

Why This Works

While there are no studies to prove that this remedy works against headaches, many individuals swear that apple cider vinegar has helped them battle severe migraines.

These remedies will assist you in combating those recurrent headaches. You can also follow the diet tips below to help you deal with the condition better.

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Best Foods For Headaches

What To Avoid
  • Alcohol – Contains substances like histamines and sulfites known to trigger headaches (10).
  • Cheese – Contains histamines known to trigger headaches (10).
  • Coffee – Drinking too much of coffee regularly and then suddenly stopping its consumption can cause withdrawal symptoms, with headache being the dominant symptom.
  • Chocolates – Known to trigger migraines in some individuals (11).
  • Artificial Sweeteners – Contain aspartame that can increase your risk of developing a headache (12).
What To Eat
  • Water – Drinking more water can help reduce or prevent headache pain (13).
  • Leafy greens – They are rich sources of B vitamins that can help prevent and treat headaches.
  • Almonds – Almonds are rich in magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies are often associated with an increased risk of migraines.
  • Coffee – Coffee contains caffeine, and moderate amounts of caffeine exhibit analgesic properties that can benefit those who have a headache.

Other than your diet choices, there are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent recurrence of headaches.

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Headache Prevention Tips

  • Manage your stress levels. Exercising regularly and practicing yoga can help combat stress.
  • Acupuncture is also known to prevent headaches. However, it is important to get it done by a professional.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Sleep well.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Although most headaches are not of much concern, if you experience severe/unbearable headache that is accompanied by the following symptoms, you must seek medical intervention immediately.

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Symptoms And Types Of Headaches

Headaches are mainly categorized into primary and secondary types.

If the headache is not the result of another condition and is caused by problems in the structures of your head that are pain-sensitive, like the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of your head and neck, it is referred to as a primary headache. Common primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.

If the headache is a result of underlying factors, it is referred to as secondary headache. Common factors known to trigger such headaches are:

  • An alcohol-induced hangover
  • Brain tumor
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding in or around the brain
  • Brain freeze
  • Concussion
  • Glaucoma
  • Dehydration
  • Teeth grinding
  • Overuse of pain medications
  • Panic attacks
  • Stroke

Headaches can be further classified into different types depending on their cause and nature.

  • Tension Headaches

This is the most common type of headache that usually occurs gradually somewhere in the middle of the day.

The symptoms are:

  • It feels like there is a tight band around the head.
  • A constant, dull ache on both sides of the head.
  • Pain radiating to or from the neck.
  • Migraines

Migraines are the second most common type of primary headaches. Migraine headaches are usually caused due to a pulsating/throbbing pain that occurs on one side of the head. They are usually accompanied by symptoms like:
• Blurred vision
• Lightheadedness
• Nausea
• Sensory disturbances (referred to as aura)

  • Rebound Headaches

Rebound headaches (also referred to as medication overuse headaches) are caused due to excessive use of medications aimed at treating headache symptoms. They are the most common triggers of secondary headaches. They often begin early and last throughout the day.

Other signs and symptoms associated with rebound headaches are:

  • Neck pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Reduced sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Cluster Headaches

These are known to last anywhere between 15 minutes and 3 hours. They can occur suddenly and may recur 1 to 8 times per day. This may go on for weeks or even months. In between these cluster headaches, there will also be periods when you will not experience any headache symptoms.

The pain caused by cluster headaches is usually:

  • One-sided and severe
  • Sharp/burning
  • Typically located in/around one eye

Cluster headaches may also cause the affected area to become red and swollen and your eyelids to droop. It can also make the nasal passage of the affected area stuffy and runny.

  • Thunderclap Headaches

Thunderclap headaches are sudden and severe. These headaches are known to reach their maximum intensity in less than a minute and may last longer than 5 minutes. They are often a result of underlying health conditions like ruptured or unruptured aneurysms, reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RVS), pituitary apoplexy, intracerebral hemorrhage, cerebral venous thrombosis, and meningitis.

Those experiencing such headaches must avail medical attention immediately.

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When To See A Doctor

See a doctor immediately if your headache is accompanied by:

  • Cognitive problems like confusion or difficulty in understanding speech
  • Fainting
  • High fever
  • Numbness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Weakness
  • Stiff neck
  • Difficulty in seeing, talking, or walking
  • Nausea or vomiting that is not related to a hangover or flu

Once you visit a doctor, they may carry out the following tests to determine the type of headache you may be suffering from.

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How To Diagnose A Headache

The type of headache can be easily diagnosed based on the description of its symptoms – like the type of pain, time of onset, and the pattern of attacks.

If the headache is unusually severe and appears to be complex, further testing may be carried out to rule out other causes.

These tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Brain scans like CT and MRI

Your doctor will prescribe treatment based on the cause and type of headache.

Headaches do not have to bring your life to a standstill. Paying attention to your lifestyle choices and following any or a combination of the above remedies can help fight them rather easily.

Did you find this information helpful? What do you do to deal with a pounding headache? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What to do for treating headaches during pregnancy?

If you want to manage headache symptoms without wanting to take medications during pregnancy, you can apply a cold pack to your temples, eat small regular meals, get enough rest, and sleep well.

Does weather affect migraines?

Yes, weather changes can also act as a trigger for headaches, especially migraines.

What does it mean when you wake up with a headache?

Most headaches that are prominent in the morning are mostly due to sleep apnea, bruxism (grinding teeth), or depression. Only in very rare cases, such headaches are a result of a serious underlying health condition.

References

  1. Peppermint oil in the acute treatment of tension-type headache” Schmerz, US National Library Of Medicine.
  2. Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial” European Neurology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  3. Vitamin Supplementation as Possible Prophylactic Treatment against Migraine with Aura and Menstrual Migraine” BioMed Research International, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Cold as an adjunctive therapy for headache.” Postgraduate Medical Journal, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Caffeine and headaches.” Current Pain and Headache Reports, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of green tea (Camellia sinensis) in mice.” Acta cirúrgica brasileira, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in migraine headache.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
  8. Magnesium in headache” The Authors, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Massage Therapy and Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches” American Journal of Public Health, US National Library of Medicine.
  10. Wine and headache” International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, US National Library of Medicine.
  11. Chocolate is a migraine-provoking agent.” Cephalgia, US National Library of Medicine.
  12. Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache.” Headache, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Increased water intake to reduce headache: learning from a critical appraisal.” Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, US National Library of Medicine.