Anyone who’s ever had a headache (and that’s 90 percent of the entire population, according to some estimates) knows that they can range from nagging to debilitating. The most common type is a tension headache, a mild, constricting feeling around your head that’s often caused by holding your neck in a tight position. Migraines, on the other hand, tend to be both intense and recurring. Medication is one way to treat your discomfort, but there are also plenty of natural ways-like the 21 tricks listed here-that can help you head off the ache, health.com reports.
Headaches are often a sign that your body needs a break, says Elizabeth Loder, MD, chief of the headache and pain division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and President of the American Headache Society. “Many people are very busy and are reluctant to take the time, but if you consider the tradeoff of spending 10 minutes to close the blinds, lie down, and relax when you feel a headache forming, that might be better use of your time than being incapacitated later on after it gets worse,” she says. Mark W Green, MD, director of the Centre for Headache and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York City, agrees. He recommends lying down in a dark, well-ventilated room. If you can, he adds, try to sleep for an hour or so. “Rather than fighting sleep and making things worse, this can be a great treatment.”
Eat small, frequent meals
If you haven’t eaten anything in a while, that aching or fuzzy feeling may be a result of low blood sugar. In this case, eating something right away could nip the nagging sensation in the bud. Some research suggests that foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach, tofu, olive oil, or sunflower or pumpkin seeds, may be especially helpful. In general, Dr Green advises his headache patients to graze on small meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones at breakfast, lunch and dinner. “This way your blood sugar stays more consistent and you won’t experience those types of crashes.”
Ice your forehead
Lying down with a chilly wet washcloth or cold compress over your forehead or eyes may provide temporary relief from a nagging headache and may even help it disappear completely, says Dr Loder. “You can also make little ice popsicles in the freezer and rub the forehead or temples for up to 10 minutes,” she says.
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