When To See A Doctor About Headaches
Dont power through regular head pain solo. See a doctor if youre experiencing headaches once per week or more or if they interfere with your everyday life. Not only can healthcare providers prescribe you medication, but they can also identify a potential underlying medical condition. Major red flags include:
- Headaches with an explosive onset
- Headaches that come on during certain activities
- Headaches with fever or stiff neck
- Headaches associated with changes in cognition
- Headaches with weakness or numbness
- Headaches that start after age 50
Play it safe and always seek out professional help if you have any concern about your health. The American Migraine Foundation offers resources for how to talk to your practitioner about headaches in order to help you find the best plan of action.
Acupressure May Help Relieve Tense Muscles
Acupressure is used in traditional Chinese medicine and can improve tightness and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, which can sometimes trigger or worsen a migraine attack or headache.
According to UCLA Integrative Medicine, acupressure sends a signal to the body to turn on self-healing or regulatory mechanisms. Its performed by applying firm pressure to stimulate each pressure point. You can do acupressure to yourself or have someone else do it.
A few common pressure points for treating headache include:
- Gallbladder 20 , also called feng chi, is located by feeling the mastoid bone and following the groove back to where your neck muscles connect to the skull.
- Triple Energizer 3, or zhong zhu, is found in the groove formed by the tendons of the fourth and fifth fingers, behind the knuckles
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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When To See A Doctor About Sudden Occasional Or Chronic Headaches
Generally speaking, headaches are extremely common and usually do not require any medical intervention. However, you should check in with your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- You have two or more headaches per week
- You take an over-the-counter pain reliever for your headaches almost every day
- It takes more than the recommended dose of pain medication to stop your headache
- The pattern of your headache frequency changes or worsens
- You have chronic headaches that leave you incapacitated
And, for any of the following symptoms or situations, you should seek immediate medical assistance for headaches that are:
- Sudden and severe
Natural Home Remedies For Headaches During Pregnancy
- Non-medication strategies help pregnant women get relief while avoiding both over-the-counter medications and herbs that may not be safe.
- Hydration is critical. Dehydration is common in pregnancy. A large glass of mineral water or electrolyte-replacement beverage can resolve dehydration.
- Blood pressure is often high in pregnancy and can be a cause of headache. High blood pressure requires treatment.
- Relaxation, magnesium, and avoiding salt all help with headaches related to high blood pressure.
- Hydrotherapy, the therapeutic use of hot and cold, is helpful and safe in pregnancy. Apply a hot pack to the head and the back of the neck. This can be paired with a short application of an ice pack to maximize the relief.
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Acupuncture And Dry Needling
Acupuncture has long been used as an alternative headache remedy. This is age-old medicine, so its hard for me to discount it, Ahmed says. In general, I feel that if patients have consistent benefits with a treatment, they should use it. And theres science to back up the results patients have seen. A 2017 study found that acupuncture could reduce the frequency of migraines and prevent future migraines. As part of the study, the subjects who received acupuncture treatments five times a week for four weeks had fewer migraines, from roughly five down to three a month.
Theres also dry needling, which doesnt have much solid research to back it up, but it shows promise, says Ahmed. Dry needling is a little different to acupuncture, which uses lots of needles for a prolonged amount of time. Dry needling uses just one needle at a time. A physical therapist quickly inserts and removes a very thin needle into a hard or knotted area of muscle to ease tension.
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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How To Prevent Headaches And Migraines Naturally
If you suffer from headaches or migraines, you can help to control them by eating a well-balanced diet of whole foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains provide vital nutrients for the production of brain chemicals that ease pain. Eating small frequent meals throughout the day can stabilize blood sugar and protect against the sharp rise and fall that can cause headaches.
How To Get Rid Of A Migraine Naturally
Have you ever had a migraine headache? If you have, you know how painful one can be, and if you havent, chances are someone you know has. Given how debilitating migraine symptoms can be, anyone affected wants to know how to get rid of a migraine.
Estimates show that 6 percent to 18 percent of the adult population suffers from recurrent migraines . Women get migraines about three times more often than men, and surveys show that more than on in four women will have at least one severe migraine attack at some time in her life.
For many people, migraines start in their teenage years and continue throughout their 20s and 30s. Roughly 10 percent of teenagers experience frequent migraines, especially during puberty due to hormonal changes. Chronic migraines, meaning those that cause attacks on more than 15 days per months, affect about 2 percent of the total population and peak in adults between their 30s and 40s.
Although migraine headaches do tend to run in families and have a genetic component, certain lifestyle choices can greatly impact how often and severely someone suffers from attacks. Migraines and also other common types of tension headaches that affect up to 90 percent of people from time to time dont need to become just a normal part of life. And even if youve had headaches for years, its not too late to change things.
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Dont Go Looking For Trouble
No two migraines are exactly the same, and no two people will experience the exact same headache.
Tinsley, who also gets these terrible headaches, recommends keeping a food and migraine journal to find any common denominators. He recommends starting by eliminating the most common triggers, then using trial and error to determine your perfect storm for a migraine.
Sometimes its a combination of these things that trigger the migraines, he says. For example, your migraine triggers can be a mix of things you can and cant control: a stressful week, a drop in pressure due to a storm, a drink with dinner and chocolate cake for dessert.
Triptans Can Play A Preventive Role
But there are certain types of triptans that are longer acting, which can make them useful in helping to prevent a migraine attack or make it less severe, says Hindiyeh.
Your shorter-acting triptans such as Imitrex and Maxalt typically have a half-life of about four hours, she explains. The half-life of a drug is the length of time required for the concentration of that drug to decrease to half its starting dose in the body, according to StatPearls.
There are also triptans that have a longer half-life. For example, Frova has a half-life of 26 hours, and Amerge has a half-life of 6 to 8 hours. These longer-acting ones can often be used as a mini-prophylaxis right around your period, she says.
If you know your period is a big trigger for a migraine attack, you can start taking one of those longer-acting triptans a couple days before your period on a schedule, either every day or twice a day for a few days in row, depending on the medication. This can help prevent the migraine attack from getting so bad, says Hindiyeh.
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Topical Treatments For Migraine Relief
Another type of alternative therapy to consider is topical treatments. Some topical drugs work directly on the nerve endings in the affected area, reaching below the surface of the skin to provide relief from migraine symptoms. Popular topical migraine treatments include:
If you arent fond of taking medications for your migraines, consider these many alternative treatments. A combination of homeopathic, medication and other remedies may be the solution to your chronic migraine attacks. Work with the knowledgeable specialists at The Migraine Relief Center to discover your ideal treatment program.
We use traditional and alternative methods according to the unique needs of each individual patient. Schedule your initial evaluation today.
Best Remedies To Fast And Natural Migraine Relief
There are few things worse than a full-on migraine headache! That pulsing, throbbing behind one or both eyes can be incredibly painful, and may even lead to nausea and vomiting. Between the pain and your extreme sensitivity to light and sound, you can do nothing but lie down and pray that it passes!
Did you know that roughly 25% of U.S. households have someone who suffers from migraine headaches? Its estimated that up to 12% of the U.S. population suffers from migraines. That even includes children!
Migraine headaches can be incredibly serious, so its vital that you know how to not only treat them but recognize the signs of an impending headache. Read on to find out everything you need to know about migraines and the best remedies to fast and natural migraine relief
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Reach For An Ice Pack Or Hot Pack
Which one you prefer is up to you, but they both can help with migraines and headaches. “Ice packs work because they basically numb the area,” Dr. Newman says. “Hot packs work because they increase the blood flow to that area.” If you’re at home, try stepping in the shower and letting the warm water hit your head.
Supplements For Treating Migraines
Supplements, or vitamins, may be able to help some people conquer migraines. While this approach wont work for everyone, its worth a try in most cases. Since triggers are unique for each person, you need to work with a specialist to come up with the supplement plan that works for you. Supplements we may recommend to migraine sufferers include:
- Vitamin B2 . Taking 400 milligrams of vitamin B-2 daily may treat migraines. Riboflavin may cause discolored urine, but it otherwise has no known side effects.
- Taking 75 milligrams daily may prevent migraines in some people. Butterbur can cause itchy eyes, diarrhea, upset stomach, fatigue, drowsiness, and allergic reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed and other related herbs.
- Taking 400 milligrams per day can help magnesium deficiency something that may cause migraines. Side effects may include upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
- Vitamin D. Supplementing your diet with more vitamin D may reduce the frequency of attacks, according to some studies. Most people do not experience side effects when taking regular doses of vitamin D. Taking too much can lead to fatigue, weakness, and nausea.
Supplements are one potential solution to migraine headaches. They can help fill in gaps in your diet, giving your body the nutrients it needs. The right vitamins can reduce the number of migraine attacks you experience and make those you do feel less severe. Supplements can be a great addition to a migraine treatment program.
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What Is A Headache
Quite simply, a headache is exactly what it sounds likepain in any part of the head. The pain may be on one or both sides of the head, focused in a particular location, or the pain may radiate across the head and out to the jaw, neck, or shoulders. A headache may be in the form of a sharp pain, a constant throbbing feeling, a tight or squeezing feeling, or a dull ache. Some headaches appear out of nowhere while others develop gradually, and they can last anywhere from minutes to several days.
Foods Rich In Magnesium
A low level of magnesium makes the brain more sensitive to migraine triggers. Indeed, it seems that half of the people with migraines are magnesium deficient. So this deficiency could be the cause of your headache. Enough magnesium is never wrong anyway. For example, it relaxes muscles and nerves and increases your resistance to stress, which can be extra beneficial for people with migraines. Daily 600 mg of magnesium already seems to reduce the risk of an attack.
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Prescription Treatment For Menstrual Migraines
If OTC medicines and natural remedies are not enough to control your menstrual migraines, a prescription treatment may be the best option for you. Furthermore, menstrual migraines can be more difficult to treat due to the effect of estrogen in your body. You may need a prescription on hand for when you get headaches around your period. Here are some commonly used prescription treatments.
- Estrogen cream or patches: Remember how we said that a major cause of menstrual migraines is thought to be the drop in estrogen levels that happens during your period? Preventing such a quick and major drop in these hormones can help keep menstrual migraines away. For this, estrogen cream or patches can be used, starting a few days before your period.
While birth control pills can help prevent menstrual migraines, it can take some time for them to work. For more information on starting regular birth control, read our birth control pill guide.
Please note that this discount is solely from Cove and not related to The Pill Club or from engaging with The Pill Club website.
Foods That Can Trigger Headaches And Migraines
Whilst there are foods and natural herbs that can help cure a headache, there are some that make it worse.
Dr Bond says: Most of the food triggers associated with headaches and migraines come from people self-reporting not clinical trials.
Trigger foods include bananas, beans , chocolate, citrus fruits, cultured dairy , nuts and nut butters, strawberries, cheese high in tyramine , MSG , aspartame , nitrates and nitrites , alcohol .
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When To Talk To Your Doctor
Alternative migraine treatment options such as those discussed here are generally considered to be safe. However, even innocuous substances and supplements can interact with prescriptions. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any treatments that you are considering incorporating into your routine. You should also talk to your healthcare provider anytime you experience changes in your migraine symptoms, such as experiencing more frequent headache days.
Magnesium May Reduce Migraine Frequency And Intensity
Magnesium can be taken as a natural supplement to prevent migraine attacks, says Nada Hindiyeh, MD, a headache specialist and researcher at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California.
In a meta-analysis published in 2016 in Pain Physician, oral magnesium was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. There was also evidence that intravenous magnesium could help reduce the severity of an acute migraine attack within 15 to 45 minutes.
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