Headaches can be debilitating and discouraging, making it hard to work or enjoy leisure activities. If you or someone you love suffers from headaches, read on to learn about three different types of headache pain and what you can do to feel better fast.

Squeezing band

You feel as though a band is wrapped tightly around your head, exerting dull pressure and pain all over. This may be a tension headache, which is caused by bad posture, poor sleep, stress, or anxiety.

It could also be a rebound headache from overuse of over-the-counter pain medications. Other triggers include hunger and dehydration.

When you feel a squeezing band coming on, check the basics: What did you eat and drink today? How was your sleep the last two nights? Are you sitting in an awkward position at your desk or straining to read on a screen? What’s your stress level?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what to address first.

Single-side stab

Some headaches drill on just one side of the head or behind an eye. They may come in a cluster or as a migraine with sensitivity to light and sound and even nausea. People who experience single-side headaches find relief in dark and quiet spaces.

Try gently massaging the painful area. A cold pack on your neck or directly over the affected area may also help. Leave the cold pack on for 15 to 20 minutes then remove for an hour. You can repeat this cycle while the pain lasts.

Double-side throb

When you feel pounding on both sides of your head, you may have a hormonal headache, like the kind a woman experiences as her hormones change during her menstrual cycle.

Bilateral headaches can also be caused by intense physical exertion or excess caffeine. Slow, gentle stretching and massage at the base of your skull can help soothe the pain.

Strategies for quick recovery

In all cases, an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen is going to be your go-to headache remedy.

In combination with acetaminophen, you could consider supplements or dietary changes. A turmeric supplement may be an effective option because of its high concentration of curcumin. One study found that participants who took a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin reduced the frequency and duration of their migraines. (1)

Other scientists found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids cut out 4 headache days per month for migraine sufferers. (2)

Take a look at your caffeine intake. Here’s why: During a headache, blood vessels swell or go through other changes, putting pressure on the nerves in your head and causing pain. Because caffeine constricts blood vessels, adding it to acetaminophen can provide relief. But watch out—too much caffeine can have the opposite effect, especially if you stop consuming it suddenly.

Deep breathing or meditation can bolster your other treatments, especially for a tension or exertion headache. Roll your head and shoulders and massage the muscles in and below your neck to release the strain.

Understanding the locations and types of headache pain will give you the upper hand next time your head starts to hurt. It doesn’t have to anymore.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

References

[1] Soveyd, N., Abdolahi, M., Djalali, M., Hatami, M., Tafakhori, A., Sarraf, P., & Honarvar, N. M. (2018). The Combined Effects of ω -3 Fatty Acids and Nano-Curcumin Supplementation on Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) Gene Expression and Serum Levels in Migraine Patients. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 16(10), 1120–1126. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871527317666171213154749

[2] Ramsden, C. E., Zamora, D., Faurot, K. R., MacIntosh, B., Horowitz, M., Keyes, G. S., et al. Dietary alteration of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for headache reduction in adults with migraine: randomized controlled trial BMJ 2021; 374 :n1448 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1448

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