If you ever find yourself struggling with a pounding headache that just won’t go away, you’re not alone. Headaches are a common problem that affects millions of people around the world. In fact, approximately half of all adults have experienced a headache at least once in the past year. 96% experience at least one in their lifetime. And if that wasn’t bad enough news, there are so many potential factors causing the throbbing pain, so it can be hard to narrow in on exactly what’s causing it. Thus, making it difficult to find a cure. The good news: knowledge is power and in this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about getting to the root cause of your headaches for long-term relief.
The Many Different Types of Headaches
There are various types of headaches, with each having their own unique causes, symptoms, and treatments. By understanding the type of headache you are experiencing and the contributing factors driving your agonizing pain, you can find the most effective treatments that can alleviate your symptoms.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of headaches.
One of the most common types of headaches is tension headache. These often cause a dull, aching pain that can feel like you have a tight band around the head. Tension headaches are usually caused by stress, anxiety, or tension in the muscles in your head and neck. They can often be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and reducing stress.
Cluster headaches are a rare type of headache – and one that is extremely painful and can feel like severe burning, stabbing or piercing pain around, or behind, one eye or side of the face. You may even experience some facial swelling, flushing, sweating, nasal congestion, drooping eyelids, and eye watering on the same side as the headache.
These types of headaches typically occur in cycles, hence their name, and produce several headaches over a period of days or weeks. The good news: cluster headaches can be treated with prescription medications and lifestyle changes.
Sinus headaches are a type of headache caused by inflammation in your sinuses, usually as a result of an infection or allergies. In addition to the painful headache in itself, you may also experience a runny or stuffy nose, face pain, and pressure around the eyes and forehead. Some over-the-counter pain medication, decongestants, and nasal sprays can help provide you with some relief.
Exertion headaches are exercise-induced headaches that happen during or after physical exertion. These headaches typically feel like a throbbing pain on both sides of the head, and can last from several minutes to several hours. Fortunately, there are several preventative and treatment options that can help, such as staying hydrating, placing an ice pack on your head and taking over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen.
Migraines are another type of headache that affects millions of people worldwide. They usually come with additional symptoms, such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and fatigue. Unfortunately, they can last for several hours or even days, and can be quite debilitating. Some potential triggers are stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, and changes in the weather, but the exact cause is still up for debate. As for treatment options, over-the-counter pain medication and lifestyle changes can make a difference, as well as prescription medication in more severe cases.
These are only the most common headaches and there are also many others, such as rebound headaches, hypertension headaches, caffeine headaches, and hormone headaches. It’s important to know the exact type you’re dealing with so you can seek the proper treatment and get the relief you deserve (and desperately seek).
Common Causes of Headaches
The causes of headaches can vary greatly, from stress and dehydration to underlying medical conditions, high-intensity workouts – you name it. That’s why it can be so difficult to find a remedy that works; you first have to understand the different types of headaches and their causes in order to find the most effective remedies. If you skipped the previous part of this article, you’ll definitely want to go back. In the meantime, here are some common causes of headaches:
- Being sick with a cold or the flu
- Being dehydrated (or not drinking enough water throughout the day)
- Poor posture
- Drinking excessive alcohol
- Skipping meals
- Taking too many pain relief medications
- Being on your menstruation period
- Eye problems
- Clenching your muscles in your jaw, shoulders, neck, etc.
Natural Remedies for Headaches
It’s not all doom and gloom! While there’s no denying that headaches are incredibly frustrating, painful and sometimes even debilitating, there are many treatment options available. Conventional medicine, such as over-the-counter pain relief, can help but they do come with risks. This is why natural remedies are often hailed as the best remedies for headaches. From essential oils and acupuncture to pain relievers and lifestyle changes, let’s take a look at the different options to try the next time a headache strikes.
Topping Up On Your H2O
Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, so it’s important to drink plenty of water (ideally 8 cups) throughout the day to prevent potential headaches. Additionally, if you feel a headache coming on, you can down a glass of water (or two) and this can help nip it in the bud.
You would be amazed at how much one single magnesium supplement can help in all aspects of your health. It’s an essential mineral that is important for nerve and muscle function, but the majority of people do not consume enough on a daily basis. Studies have also found that low levels of magnesium may lead to headaches. So, try to eat more magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, almonds, and avocado, or take a magnesium supplements to fill in the void.
Magnesium sprays and lotions are also great, and it’s said that this is the best way to use magnesium as it skips the digestive tract so it doesn’t get broken down and have a laxative effect.
Essential oils aren’t a popular trend for no reason: they actually work, and there are many options available. Peppermint is definitely a top favourite and a couple of dabs on your temple or a few inhales of the oil can be enough to ease tension, tackle inflammation and put an end a headache. Lavender and eucalyptus are also excellent options and can be rubbed into your scalp for extra relief.
While exercise is likely the last thing you want to do when you have a headache, staying active can help reduce the number of headaches you get. Not only does it help reduce stress and tension, but exercise also releases endorphins, which are natural pain relief hormones. If you’re someone who gets exertion headaches, start with a calmer or lighter style of exercise, such as yoga or a brisk walk.
Heat and cold can go a long way when it comes to alleviating headaches. Simply apply a cold compress, such as an ice pack or warm compress to your forehead or neck to help alleviate your pain. You may prefer one over the other, or will find the best relief when using the two combined as a cold compress can help reduce inflammation and a warm compress will help relax tense muscles.
Pour yourself a warm cup of tea and sprinkle in some ginger for natural headache relief. If you’re not a tea-drinker, add some ginger into your next meal instead. But why, you ask? Ginger is infused with anti-inflammatory properties that can help tackle different types of headaches.
Since many headaches are caused by stress and tension, practising some relaxation techniques can go a long way. Yoga is a popular option that combines breath work and movement to help induce relaxation and stress-relief, while also releasing tense muscles and mental strain. Meditation is another powerful relaxation technique that only takes minutes to do. Some other options include journaling, prioritizing sleep, regular exercise and spending more time in nature.
Whether you’re struggling with the odd headache here and there or are experiencing frequent, debilitating and downright agonizing pain, the tips and remedies in this article can help you find the best treatment so you can keep the throbbing pain at bay and start living your life to the fullest once again.