Nearly everybody suffers from headaches at some point, but not many people know why they happen most of the time, or what to do about it. By a quick examination of the causes of a headache, we can point you in the right direction for how to get rid of a headache.
Some headaches are caused by migraines, but migraines are caused by internal factors in the brain and aren’t very well understood. There are a number of things you can do to prevent them, like avoiding bright flashing lights or stressful situations. When you do have them, however, there isn’t much you can do.
Generally, migraines need to be ridden out. A cold compress might help reduce a migraine, as can paracetamol (check the packaging before taking any medication). Sadly though a migraine doesn’t respond to much. Also, overuse of paracetamol can lead to rebound headaches. For more detailed advice on migraines, check our “What Are Migraines And What Causes Them” guide.
For most headaches, you can do a surprising amount to get rid of them. Medication like aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen can be effective but should be a last resort. Always follow the instructions and never exceed the dosage when taking these medications, they can have severe side effects.
One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. It is easy to lose track of how much fluid you’re taking in, especially if you’re exercising. If you notice you have a headache, try to think about how much water you’ve been drinking during the day. As most people don’t drink enough water anyway, this is probably the cause of your headache. A glass or two of water can make a huge difference in headache treatment. Give it 20 minutes or so to take effect before looking for an alternative.
For glasses wearers, this is probably the cause of your headaches. If your glasses don’t fit, you will be holding your muscles in stress positions to try to keep your glasses from falling off. A quick trip to an optician can help you get them sitting on your face properly. It can make a huge difference.
The wrong prescription glasses will cause you to squint, whether you’re aware of it or not. When you squint for a long time, it builds tension and begins to hurt. Book a trip to the opticians and see if they can help.
A quick check – are you chewing gum? Muscle tension and tiredness is a major cause of headaches and the stress caused by chewing gum to your muscles is often overlooked. Dispose of the gum responsibly and try a massaging your temples and jaw, this might alleviate a lot of the pain.
If you’re not chewing gum, check for other symptoms of stress. Are your teeth clenched when you’re not paying attention? Are you chewing the insides of your gums? Is your brow furrowed or are your lips pursed? These are all the classic signs of stress and one of the main causes of headaches.
If you’re lucky enough you might know someone who knows how to get rid of headache pain with a head and neck massage, and if so ask them if they’ll help you. The point is to relax the head and neck muscles. You can do a lot of this yourself but it is (for most people) a pleasurable experience to have a head and neck massage.
Once you’ve had a massage, try to examine how the muscles feel and remember that state. When you next notice you have a headache, try to recreate that feeling in your muscles again. Consciously relaxing them will cause them to lose tension and in many cases, this will relieve your headache.
Simple awareness of how your muscles are feeling is the first step in actively relieving yourself of tension-caused headaches. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in and let the breath out, then turn your focus to your jaw, your lips, your brow, your trapezius muscles in your shoulders, the muscles behind your ears and on your scalp.
Is there tension there? Reach up and touch the muscle, how does it feel? Try taking all the movement out of your face, relax everything. Let your shoulders drop. Take a deep breath and as you let it out, keep all your muscles relaxed.
You should be able to feel how different your head feels. If not, try repeating the steps until you can feel your muscles have relaxed. Practice this a few times and try employ it when you feel you have a headache. After a while, you can develop the natural awareness that will stop the tension from mounting and causing headaches in the first place.
CBD and cannabis may be able to allow people to cope with migraines by both helping them cope with the pain of a migraine, and the frequency of migraine attacks. The science is still out, but there is a lot of promise in this new field of medicine.