Treat Yourself To A Massage
If you needed a reason to schedule a massage, here you go: Massage relieves stress and may help improve sleep quality, two known migraine triggers.
A 2006 study supported using massage therapy to treat migraines and participants reported lower levels of anxiety, heart rate, and cortisol level.
Cant afford or find time for a professional massage? Enlist a partner or friend for a mini massage to help relieve tension. Or, you can even work wonders by massaging tense muscles with a tennis or lacrosse ball placed between your back and a wall.
How Heat Therapy Works
Heat therapy improves circulation and blood flow to a specific area of the body because of increased temperature. Even gentle increases in temperature can soothe discomfort, provide pain relief, improve muscle flexibility and heal damaged tissues. Two types of heat therapy are dry heat and moist heat . Moist heat is often recommended due to its superior effectiveness in a shorter amount of time.
If you have one of these pre-existing conditions, you should not use heat therapy due to a higher risk of complications or burns: deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, dermatitis, vascular diseases or multiple sclerosis . If you have hypertension or heart disease, ask your doctor before using heat therapy.
Essential Oils Can Have A Calming Effect
While no strong evidence suggests that essential oils can reduce the frequency or severity of headaches or migraine attacks, some people find it relaxing to massage lavender oil, diluted peppermint oil, or basil oil on their temples, or to put a few drops in a diffuser to scent the air.
“Lavender can be calming, and anything that decreases stress is helpful,” says Kriegler.
While lavender oil can be either inhaled or applied topically, it should not be taken orally because of its potency and the potential for taking in too much, according to Cleveland Clinic.
As an alternative to peppermint oil, peppermint tea brewed from fresh or dried leaves can also provide a relaxing effect, and contribute to proper hydration.
“Basil oil has a long history as a home remedy for relaxation and as an analgesic, or painkiller,” says Rothenberg. “The herb works as a muscle relaxant, so it is especially helpful for headaches caused by tension and tight muscles.”
Before applying any oil to your body, perform a skin test on the inside of your wrist to make sure you aren’t allergic to it.
Additional reporting by Becky Upham.
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When To Seek Help
If an individual experiences migraine symptoms more than a few times per month, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with work or other activities, it is important to see a doctor. A doctor can rule out serious illnesses and provide advice on managing and treating symptoms.
Migraine is common, but it is often underdiagnosed, particularly in communities of color and those with lower incomes.
If someone is having difficulty getting a diagnosis from their primary doctor, they may be able to get second opinions or speak with a headache specialist instead.
Headache specialists are doctors who have completed additional training in diagnosing and treating migraine and other headache disorders. The American Migraine Foundation has a directory of headache specialists people can use to find one.
What Are The Best Natural Remedies For Headaches
The following headache remedies can be effective in relieving some of the pain or discomfort caused by headaches:
- A warm bath can help you relax and may also reduce any muscle pain that could be contributing to a tension headache.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water. Adding foods with high water content like watermelon, celery, and cucumber to your diet can also help.
- Meditation, including sitting in a comfortable position and regulating your breath until you feel relaxed, can help reduce tension caused by a headache.
- Progressive muscle relaxation could also offer some relief. Begin to deepen and regulate your breathing while seated in a comfortable position. Mentally review your bodys pain points, breathing deeply to loosen up those trouble areas.
- Listen to calming sounds, including music or recorded nature sounds. The rhythms and gentle melodies can help slow your breathing, promote relaxation, as well as help ease body pain or tension.
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How Do You Treat Migraines Naturally
Many migraines are treated with pharmaceuticals, but because migraines are so complex, individual, and not well understood, many people turn to natural treatments. Its important to note that home remedies are not a substitute for proper long-term medical care and attention, but they can offer relief from the symptoms of a migraine.
Here are some of the most popular methods for natural relief:
1. Be more conscientious of your lifestyle
Migraines are often linked to poor sleep hygiene, a poor diet, or even simple dehydration. Many migraine sufferers thus choose to manage their migraine attacks with careful oversight of their habits and especially their diets. Limiting alcohol consumption has also been shown to have a significant impact for some sufferers.
If youre unsure of how well you sleep, you can download simple trackers for a smartphone or smartwatch that can give you a simplified review of your sleep health. If not, you can consult a trained professional and conduct a sleep hygiene study.
2. Magnesium supplements
While you dont need much magnesium, it is a necessary mineral for many of your bodys normal functions. Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to migraines and supplements can be purchased over the counter.
There are some side effects, especially with overconsumption, so be sure to check with your doctor if magnesium supplements are right for you.
4. B-complex vitamin supplements
5. Cold compresses
6. Experiment with an elimination diet
9. Practice yoga
Are Tension Headaches And Migraines The Same
- Tension headache. Up to 78% of Americans will suffer from them at some point as they are the most common form of headache. Symptoms include pain on both sides of your head, tight pressure rather than throbbing, feeling like your head is in a vice or has a band around it, and possibly have soreness in temples, neck, and shoulders. The pain isn’t usually classified as severe.
- Migraines.Migraine is also common but occurs far less frequently than a tension headache. The pain associated with a migraine headache is different from tension-type headache and can help determine which type of headache a person is experiencing. Symptoms include moderate to severe throbbing pain , the pain increases with physical activity, a sensitivity to sound, light or smell. You may experience an aura , nausea and have facial or arm tingling just before the migraine begins. Pain in temples, around eyes, jaw, or neck may also be experienced.
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Natural Treatments For Tension Headaches
Use A Cold Or Hot Compress
For headaches with radiating pain that starts in one area and spreads to another, like migraine headaches, cold compresses can be placed over the spot from which the pain originates, says Michael Devine, MD, internal medicine doctor and geriatrician with Devine Concierge Medicine, a primary care practice in Philadelphia.
Cold temperatures have a numbing effect, which can dull the pain. They can also constrict the blood vessels, which may help relieve migraines. You can make your own cold compress by placing a damp towel in the freezer for about 10 minutes. An ice pack would also work.
Heat is better suited for tension headaches, Devine says, which often manifest as dull, aching head pain and a feeling of tightness across your forehead.
Tensions headaches are typically caused by stress and relaxing stiff neck and shoulder muscles can help relieve this type of headache. For example, heat packs or a hot towel can be draped over the neck and shoulder muscles to help relax the muscles.
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Vitamin B12 Levels May Be Associated With Migraine Risk
Evidence links low levels of vitamin B12 with migraine. A study published in October 2019 in the journal Headache compared vitamin B12 levels in 70 people with migraine and 70 healthy people of similar demographics. Investigators found that serum levels of B12 were significantly lower in people with migraine compared with participants without migraine. People with the lowest levels of the vitamin were five times more likely to have migraine than those with the highest levels of B12.
Researchers have also tested the effects of daily vitamin supplements containing folic acid , vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 on migraine. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Headache and Pain, it was found that 1 milligram of folic acid in combination with vitamin B6 and B12 was less effective in reducing symptoms associated with migraine compared with a dose previously tested by the same researchers, namely 2 mg folic acid in combination with 25 mg of vitamin B6 and 400 micrograms of vitamin B12.
What Are The Best Herbs For Headaches
If you suffer from occasional headaches or migraines, youre not alone. Headaches are the most commonly felt pain, affecting most people at some point in their lives.
Youre likely familiar with the plethora of commercial headache medications. But what about natural remedies for treating headaches? Are they really effective?
If you might prefer a home remedy for treating your next headache, youre in luck. There is scientific research on which herbs can relieve tension and even help prevent migraines. In this post well look at some of the best natural ways to relieve headaches.
WHAT IS A HEADACHE, ANYWAY?
Simply put, a headache is pain felt in the head. Headaches may affect the entire head, just one side, or a pinpoint location. Headache pain can range from dull and achy to piercing. The blood vessels in your head are quite sensitive, making them susceptible to pain.
WHAT CAUSES HEADACHES?
For more information on essential oils, check out What are essential oils and how can you use them?.
Butterbur can help prevent migraines, while lavender oil or ginger tea can help alleviate them. Peppermint oil helps reduce tension headaches. Feverfew may be another herb to consider for preventing migraines, although evidence for it is not as strong as other remedies.
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Causes And Risk Factors
You may be wondering what causes headaches. In general, headaches occur due to a combination of nerve signals sent from the blood vessels and muscles in the head. What causes these signals to turn on is still unknown. Headache triggers can include:
- Illnesses such as sinus infections, colds, fever or throat infection.
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When It Doubt Take Otc Meds
Home remedies dont have to be natural you just have to be able to put them into use at home. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen can be extremely helpful in making you more comfortable until you can make an appointment with your doctor, even if theyre not as powerful as prescription medications. Dr. Natbony recommends taking one as soon as the migraine hits for it to be the most effective. Take the highest recommended dosage thats appropriate, obviously consulting with your doctor, she says. Keep in mind some pain medications can have negative side effects if you take them long-term, so if youre having frequent migraines, its best to have a physician tailor your treatment.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Tension Headache
These are common symptoms of a tension headache:
- Slow onset of the headache
- Head usually hurts on both sides
- Pain is dull or feels like a band or vice around the head
- Pain may involve the back part of the head or neck
- Pain is usually mild to moderate, but not severe
The symptoms of tension headaches may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
What Are Other Ways To Get Rid Of Headaches
If natural remedies for headaches are not working for you, consider any lifestyle factors that could be contributing. For example:
- Regular exercise promotes good circulation.
- Eat and sleep on a regular schedule.
- Your headache may be a result of overexposure to screens like smartphones, TVs, and computers. Give your mind a break by adding some screen-free time into your schedule.
- Your headache could be a symptom of strained eyesight. Figuring out how to get rid of a headache may be as simple as updating your eyeglass prescription.
- Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
If none of these headache remedies work for you, visit your doctor.
Small changes in your daily routines may help relieve headaches naturally. By changing your diet, you may be able to pinpoint any food or ingredients that trouble your system. Even reducing your exposure to digital screens may offer relief.
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How Are Tension Headaches Diagnosed
Tension headaches are mainly diagnosed based on the symptoms you report. A thorough medical exam, which may include other tests or procedures, may be used to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.
Tracking and sharing information about your headache with your healthcare provider helps make an accurate diagnosis.
Questions commonly asked during the exam may include:
- When do headaches occur?
- What is the location of the headache?
- What do the headaches feel like?
- How long do the headaches last?
- Have there been changes in behavior or personality?
- Do changes in position or sitting up cause the headache?
- Do you have trouble sleeping?
- Do you have a history of stress?
- Have you had a head injury?
If the history suggests tension headaches and the neurological exam is normal, no further testing may be needed. But, if the headache is not found to be the main problem, then other tests may be needed to determine the cause such as:
Watch The Full Presentation Recording
This article was adapted from a presentation by Dr Jacinta Johnson, originally presented during Migraine & Headache Awareness Week 2019.
Jacinta is a credentialled Advanced Practice Pharmacist and Lecturer in Pharmacy within the School of Pharmacy and Medical Science. Currently, Jacinta also holds the position of Senior Pharmacist Medication Safety at Flinders Medical Centre . In Addition, Jacinta is a Board Director for the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia , sits on the Leadership Group for the SHPA Education and Educational Visiting Speciatly Practice Stream and is an active member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia SA/NT Early Career Pharmacist Group. Her current research is focused upon pain, opioids, addiction and harm minimisation.
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Key Points About Tension Headaches
- Tension headaches are the most common type of headache.
- Tension headaches typically do not cause nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
- Tension headaches affect both sides of the head, come on slowly, and are described as a tight band or vice around the head.
- Lifestyle changes including regular sleep, exercise, and meal schedules can reduce or prevent headaches.
- Discuss medicines to treat or prevent tension headaches with your healthcare provider.
Ease Pain And Nausea With Ginger
Heres a remedy you likely have in your kitchen. You may already know about gingers ability to settle upset stomachs. But did you know this spice may help with migraines beyond the nausea?
In a 2014 study, ginger powder reduced the severity and length of migraines as well as a migraine-relieving prescription drug, but with fewer side effects.
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Keep A Regular Schedule
“Migraines don’t like change, and it’s often when you’ve deviated from your normal routine that they tend to occur,” said Dr. Green.
One of the most common triggers, in fact, is getting too little sleep, based on a study published in April 2016 in Medicine. Don’t go too far in the other direction, though: “Too much sleep can also be a trigger if you’re altering your regular schedule,” said Dr. Green. Your best bet is keeping a consistent bedtime and wake timeyes, even on the weekends.
Overview Of Common Headache Types & Symptoms
Generally headaches can be separated into two main categories. There are primary headaches, where the headache is the condition itself and secondary headaches, which are caused by an underlying condition or some other factor.
Most people have probably experienced a temporary cold or flu at some point in their life, thus have probably experienced a cold-associated headache. This type of headache would be a secondary type of headache.
The most common type of headache is tension-type headache. Statistically, the vast majority of the population has experienced a tension-type headache at some point. Tension-type headaches are the type of headaches that feel like a band of pressure around your head or a kind of tightening or squeezing feeling.
The pain is usually located on both sides of the head at once. The quality of the pain is usually a sort of a dull, aching type feeling and is usually fairly constant.. In terms of intensity, we generally call these headaches mild to moderate, however some people can experience severe tension-type headaches.
Tension-type headaches typically last for a few hours. Unfortunately for some people, they can last all day or even for multiple days in a row. Often tension-type headaches are associated with tension or tightness in the muscles and neck, which is where they originally got their name.
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