Updated: Oct 1, 2019
We all get them. One day, the sun is too bright, or the neighbours are too loud, or the traffic just finally adds up and results in a nagging headache. You can't help but focus on the pulsing headache drowning out the rest of the world. You're less productive, and you struggle to enjoy your life. It SUCKS. There is, however, a method of reducing the effects a headache may take on your day, or even diminishing them entirely. Let's start by understanding what a headache is and why we get them. To know how to treat each unique situation, we have to acknowledge the 4 main types of headaches you might experience and then address ways to fix them.
1. The Tension Headache
This is one of the most common types of headaches, and you've likely experienced most of all. It comes with a dull, constant, non-throbbing pain that can make you feel as if your head is wrapped in a tight band. Your neck muscles may seem knotted, and parts of your head and neck may be sensitive to touch. Tension headaches are most commonly short-lived, but also have the potential to be long-lasting and experienced often. Some ways we can reduce the effects of these symptoms without orally ingested pharmaceuticals are:- Drink more water to help reduce the dehydration- consuming electrolytes (i.e. bananas, coconut water, energy bars, Pedialyte etc.) helps to decrease your risk of dehydration, while also preventing hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a condition in which your body experiences levels of low sodium in the blood due in part to low consumption of electrolytes, and high intake of fluids (i.e. only water)- massaging your bra line, head, neck and trapezius muscles with your hand/ a percussive massaging instrument has also shown to have moderate effects on reducing the intensity and duration of a headache. It is unknown whether or not this can be said with other forms of headaches such as cluster headaches.
2. The Migraine Headache
This type of headache is one of the hardest forms of a headache to deal with. It can occur frequently, and oftentimes for an extended duration. They usually begin with an intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head, which may spread and might be accompanied by nausea and vomiting symptoms. Those of you that experience migraines know the terrors that come with them, and won't require much more detail than that. Some of the things that can cause migraines to include but are not limited to overconsumption of alcohol, Caffeine withdrawal, Certain foods or smells, Naps, Dry winds, Changes in altitude or seasons, Changes in hormones, Birth control pills, Missing a meal, Lack of sleep, neck pain and Stuffy rooms. A few ways you can try to deal with them are as follows:- ensure that you are adequately hydrated and not feeling hungry.- eating a BRAT (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet might help to keep the food down- a light bout of exercise has shown to potentially help some demographics when dealing with their migraine symptoms as well.
3. The Cluster Headache
These attacks got their name because they tend to come in bunches over weeks. The pain is only on one side of your head (unilateral). It is severe, piercing and peaks within minutes. Your eye on the affected side becomes red and watery. And, you often have nasal congestion with a runny nose on that same side as well. It lasts from 30 minutes to 2 hours, then fades or disappears, only to come back a day or so later. Some people can have four or more attacks in a day. These are very tricky, as Doctors aren't sure of the root cause of them. However, a couple of ways that you can help reduce the effects of these headaches/ avoid them are:- avoiding smoking and alcohol - close your eyes, and rest- lightly massage your temples - place a warm cloth around your neck/ forehead- eating foods high in Vitamin C might be a way to help reduce the effects and have shown experimental results in helping reduce the effects of cluster headaches potentially due to anti-oxidant properties as well as hydrating properties of vitamin C post severe bodily stress (including Kiwi, Mango, Orange, Lemon, Pineapple, Grapefruit, Papaya, etc).
4. Sinus Headaches
Sinus Headaches come with pain in the forehead, nose, cheeks, eyes, and sometimes the top of the head. In some cases, they also make you feel pressure behind your face. Nasal congestion and blockage from seasonal allergies or an infection that leads to sinus congestion is the main cause, usually because of hay fever and other seasonal allergies, or a cold or the flu. Most often ensuring that you are not blowing your nose too frequently and that you aren't dehydrated are the most important factors to minimize the effects of Sinus Headaches. Vitamin C while not an effective supplement for regular consumption (I'll be going over this in the future) has shown to reduce the duration of the common cold and any sinus related symptoms. The connection can be drawn that there might be a positive influence on sinus-related headaches as well. Additionally, this would be a time when you should consult your physician for help on how to deal with the effects of your headaches. While my advice may help, it might be necessary to take pharmaceuticals for this type of headache.
You may have noticed along the way that irrespective of the circumstances, consuming an adequate quantity of water is important. Dehydration affects the mood of all populations while also having a considerable effect on the physical and cognitive performance (with a dehydration level of 1-2% from optimal) of those influenced and water-deprivation is a serious cause for headaches. Help prevent the discomfort of a headache by actively and consistently increasing your fluid consumption. Please let me know if any of this helps you in your journey to living a healthy and happy lifestyle! And if you would be so kind as to leave feedback for me to help improve the experience in the future! Thanks! -Ed
Some of the evidence listed below :