Nothing can ruin a good day like a nagging headache. Most headaches occur in the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles of your head and neck. According to Medical News Today, there are four main types of headaches:
Emotional: caused by stress, depression, anxiety, or extreme fear
Medical: caused by a medical condition such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or a migraine
Physical: caused by an injury
Environmental: usually triggered by allergies, the weather, and bariatric pressure.
Whatever the cause, all you care about at the time is getting rid of it and moving on with your day. While the four main types of headaches are listed above, other elements of your lifestyle can trigger headaches, such as diet, lack of sleep, alcohol intake, caffeine, and hormones.
With all of these factors capable of contributing to your pounding head, you need more than one remedy to rely on. Taking over-the-counter medications can be risky in the long term; therefore, many people avoid them or can’t take them at all. Let’s take a look at some of the best alternative headache remedies and make-shift preventatives to eliminate your headache pain.
Menthol and peppermint aromas
There must be some science to it, but I’m really not sure why the smell of peppermint quells a throbbing head. When that headache starts grabbing hold, reach for peppermint oil and dab a bit under your nose. The aroma will begin to ease your pain right away. Just be sure to get the kind from a homeopathic store that you can use on your skin. You can also use peppermint oil in a diffuser to put more aroma and moisture into the air. However, don’t use the diffuser oil on your skin. It is way too strong. Some peppermint oils are also medicated and can be put directly on the back of the neck, temples, and forehead. I have a little roll-on peppermint oil tube I love. It’s about the size of a lipstick tube, and I can take it anywhere. There are lots of different peppermint oil brands to choose from. In my experience, they all work pretty well.
Medicated muscle creams
Carefully applying a medicated muscle cream or roll-on muscle ointment to the back of your neck and even your temples and forehead can bring quick relief if the roll-on peppermint oil is not available. However, be extra careful not to get these ointments too close to your eyes and thoroughly wash your hands after applying. In fact, I get the roll-on ointments, so none of it gets on my fingers where I can inadvertently get it in my eyes. In a pinch, I have used a Q-tip to apply the regular tube cream. After applying, lay still on your back with your eyes closed if possible and let the medication do its thing.
Microwaveable corn-filled heating pad
A few years ago, my husband and I were at a craft show, and a lady was selling handmade long tubes of fabric filled with corn kernels—not the cooked variety—the kind that comes right out of the seed-corn field. Anyway, she demonstrated how to microwave this corn pillow and place it around your neck to relieve a stress headache. Being a frequent headache sufferer, I was willing to try anything—and it really did help. Used in conjunction with methods one or two above, this remedy works even better. Since getting my corn pillow at the craft show, I have seen similar products are sold online.
Gel frozen eye mask
If you have one of those headaches right behind your eyes, try a frozen gel mask. The beads or solution in the mask don’t completely freeze, so they are malleable and comfortable. Some masks come with eye holes, but the solid ones with no holes are better for a headache. A solid mask with good compression on the eyelids also keeps out light that can worsen headaches. Again, using this method in combination with others above gives even more relief.
Drink something, but not alcohol
Drinking water can replenish fluids and relieve dehydration, which is a common cause of headaches. Dehydration can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, excessive exercising, or simply by not drinking enough water. While re-hydrating will not instantly relieve your pain, it will shorten its duration and prevent it from coming back. Sometimes, you can ease a headache by drinking a caffeinated beverage like tea, soda, or coffee. If you are able, try a little caffeine and see if that pesky pain subsides. Just be careful—too much caffeine can have the opposite effect and end up causing or worsening a headache.
The only thing better than curing a headache is preventing one altogether. Try keeping these preventative measures in mind, and you could significantly reduce your number of headaches.
Get enough sleep
Limit screen time or wear blue light filtering lenses
Drink enough water
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Wear sunglasses out in the sunlight
Take short relaxation breaks throughout the day
Take supplements: ask your doctor, pharmacist, or someone knowledgeable in natural medications for advice.
Avoid triggers you know cause your pain, such as foods and smells
Be mindful of eye strain from reading, sewing, or other tedious activities
A headache is miserable and sometimes unavoidable, especially in the spring and summer. The next time you find yourself in this predicament, try one of the simple remedies listed above. Be sure to keep that next headache at bay by trying some of the preventive measures as well.
Headaches are no fun. Having several weapons to use against this foe puts you one step closer to winning the fight and having more headache-free days.