Treatment for headaches
Treatment for headaches is aimed at relieving symptoms, preventing further episodes, and preventing additional symptoms. Knowing what triggers your migraines can help you avoid migraines or relieve the pain by avoiding these triggers and learning how to deal with them. Treatment can include:
- Rest in a quiet, dark room
- Hot or cold compresses on the head or neck
- Massage and small amounts of caffeine
- Over-the-counter drugs like:
- Ibuprofen (Advil,
- Motrin IB, others),
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin
- Prescription drugs such as triptans such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)
- Headaches preventive medications like:
- Propranolol (Innopran, Inderal, others),
- Divalproex (Depakote), metoprolol (Lopressor),
- Topiramate (Qudexy XR, Trokendi XR, Topamax) or
- Erenumab-aooe (Aimovig)
You have a headache. Again? The first step in preventing frequent headaches is determining your type of headache. Sometimes headaches are a symptom of another disease or condition; sometimes, there is no apparent cause.
Look closely at the signs and symptoms of your headache. Keeping a headache diary can help you identify the type of headache. Pay attention to when headaches appear, symptoms, and potential triggers such as food, stress, or changes in sleep.
Headaches rank among the most common and frequent ailments. A headache is not a disease but may indicate other underlying problems. Headaches are common in about 50–75% of all teens. However, recurrent headaches can upset and worry an individual to a great extent. The most common headaches people in their teens and early twenties have are tension headaches and migraines. Sometimes, these problems may require a visit to a medical provider.
Almost everyone has headaches, and often you don’t have to worry. Just use regular painkillers and try to avoid headache triggers. But if the headaches interfere with your activities, work, or personal life, it’s time to see your doctor. Headaches can’t always be avoided, but your doctor can help manage the symptoms.
What is a headache?
Headache is pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures surrounding the skull or the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers).
Treatment for headaches depends on their causes and symptoms. Treatment for headaches will vary based on the type of headache and individual response, considering other physical conditions associated with the headache.
Headaches are also classified into different categories for better diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of the complexity of it all. The ‘International Headache Society does the classification.’
The occurrence of headaches is taken into account. A simple analgesic will treat it if it’s a single occurrence. But if it is recurrent, then the treatment is not so simple. Headaches are divided into two types, and one treatment is for relief from the pain. In contrast, the headache is in progress ‘(abortive treatment),’ and the other is to prevent the headache from recurring again ‘(prophylactic treatment).’
A combination treats migraines, medical prescriptions, and lifestyle changes. ‘Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)’ are prescribed for treating migraines and cluster-type headaches. In such cases, it is strongly recommended to consult your family physician for professional guidance and treatment and not indulge in over-the-counter medications.
Other alternative forms of treatment for headaches include natural treatments like acupuncture, yoga, and meditation, magnesium supplements, and certain herbal supplements. Aromatherapy is beneficial for relieving pain. Time-tested treatments with essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, and cinnamon have headache-relieving properties.
There are different triggers for headaches. Here are some of them:
- The strain on the eyes
- Skipping a meal
- Poor sleeping habits
- Loud noise
Headaches can be associated with symptoms such as
- Pain in the eyes when looking into bright lights (photophobia),
- Tightness sensation in the head
What causes headaches?
You can experience headaches in any area of your head, affecting just one or both sides. Headaches can be defined as primary or secondary. Primary headaches are unrelated to any other condition, whereas secondary headaches have an underlying reason.
Primary headaches can result from problems with your muscles, blood vessels, and nerves of the neck and head. It can also occur due to changes in your brain’s chemical activity. Primary headaches commonly include tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines.
When it comes to secondary headaches, numerous factors can lead to them, such as:
- Panic attacks
- Overuse of pain medication
- Teeth grinding
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Brain freeze
- Bleeding in or around your brain
- Blood clots
- Brain tumor
- Alcohol-induced hangover
Types of headache and treatment
Before treating a headache, it is necessary to understand what causes it. The tension of the muscles, sinus congestion, and changes caused by vascular constriction cause headaches. Here’s a description of each type of headache:
By far, the immense majority of headaches that most people experience are known as tension headaches or some similar variant. While the exact cause of these headaches is unknown and probably varies from patient to patient, this benign type of headache is usually associated with stress and muscle tension or spasms of the neck, facial, or head muscles. While their severity, location, and characteristics can vary, they are almost always harmless and do not represent any more serious underlying problems.
A tension headache is the typical headache most of us have experienced when we are overtired, overworked, or stressed. Tension headaches do not cause other neurological symptoms. If other symptoms are present, it should raise the question of another diagnosis.
Causes of tension headache
- Not getting enough rest
- Poor posture
- Emotional or mental stress, including depression
Some environmental or internal stress can trigger tension-type headaches. This stress may or may not be known to the patient and their family. The most common sources of stress include family, social relationships, friends, work, and school.
Tension headaches treatment
A tension headache usually develops in the afternoon, causing mild or moderate pain that may feel like dull tightness or a band of pressure. Listed below are tension headache treatment
Pay attention to the basics.
- Paying attention to the basics is one of the tension headache treatments. This involves getting enough sleep, never skipping meals, and going your way to avoid stress and fatigue.
- If you use these techniques regularly, physical and mental relaxation therapies are tension headache treatments that can help prevent tension headaches. Physical approaches include placing a heating pad on the neck and shoulders to relax the muscles. Exercising these muscles also helps strengthen and stretch them.
- Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that requires special training. Biofeedback is a tension headache treatment that can help prevent recurring tension headaches. Usually, a therapist attaches electrodes to your skin to pick up electrical signals from the neck and shoulder muscles. You will then learn to recognize when you are tense and practice relaxing the muscles before they tighten so much that you develop tension headaches.
The paranasal sinuses are mucosa-lined chambers in the bones of the skull and face. There are several of them surrounding the nasal passages. Usually, mucous secretions in the sinuses flow out of openings into the nasal passage. However, if a sinus is obstructed so its contents cannot exit, the pressure inside the sinuses can build up. This can occur with mucosal swelling associated with an allergy (allergic rhinitis or hay fever) or an infection such as a cold or sinus infection.
When pressure builds up inside a sinus, it can cause pain. While some sinuses (such as the large maxillary sinuses) are in the face, most are associated with the base of the skull. This pain can be interpreted and described as a headache. While these sinus headaches can occur in anyone with a “stuffed nose” of any cause, patients with chronic sinus problems with recurrent sinus infections can often have severe pain associated with this condition.
What causes sinus headaches?
Sinus infections cause sinus headaches. Anything that causes mucus to build up in the sinuses can lead to a sinus infection, such as:
- Common cold
- Seasonal allergies
- Nasal polyps are abnormal growths of the nose or sinuses.
Sinus headaches treatment
The sinus headache treatment listed below can help ease the symptoms associated with sinus headaches.
- Drinking plenty of fluids, like water or juice, is a sinus headache treatment that helps to thin the mucus. However, avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can lead to dehydration.
- Get enough rest to help your body fight infections and speed recovery. While you sleep, make yourself comfortable with a couple of pillows. As you stay elevated, you can breathe more comfortably.
- Inhale the steam from a saucepan or bowl of lukewarm water, or take a hot shower. You can also place a warm, damp towel on your face, followed by a cool towel, to relieve sinus pain and open up the nasal passages.
- Over-the-counter drugs like decongestants, antihistamines (if allergies are the cause), and pain relievers are a list of sinus headache treatments that help reduce sinus pain and pressure.
Cluster headaches are a unique neurological form of headache with an unknown cause. These severe attacks are usually only on one side and are often described as a stabbing or dull pain that is located behind the eye. It typically happens abruptly and irregularly, then there are times of remission.
In addition to pain, which can be extraordinarily severe and is one of the most painful conditions a human can endure, cluster headaches are characterized by symptoms that seem to come from the autonomic nervous system. These include ptosis (a drooping eyelid on the same side), tearing, runny nose, redness of the eye, and even facial redness, swelling, and/or sweating. These symptoms all occur only on the same side as the headache. Some patients describe specific triggers that set off attacks, such as ingestion of alcohol or exposure to heat.
Cluster headache causes
Cluster headaches are most likely related to the activity of your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is at the base of your brain and contains reflex pathways that control the pain in your face and behind your eyes.
When this nerve pathway is activated, it triggers the following sensations:
- Strong pain
- The same group of nerves can also stimulate tears and redness in the eyes.
Cluster headache treatment
The following are cluster headache treatments that have been proven to be effective.
- Oxygen therapy is one of the primary causes of cluster headaches. Getting extra oxygen into your bloodstream can calm your body and help you manage pain. Breathing in oxygen through a mask at 7 to 10 liters per minute may bring significant relief within 15 minutes. Having an oxygen cylinder and regulator close at hand is not always practical, but some small units are available. Oxygen therapy may only postpone symptoms rather than alleviate them.
- Melatonin is a hormone that your body uses to regulate your sleeping patterns. People who get cluster headaches often have low melatonin levels. Melatonin supplements are one cluster headache treatment that helps prevent cluster headaches before bedtime.
Natural remedies for headaches: a natural treatment for headaches
Natural remedies for headaches are effective with no side effects. Many natural remedies for headaches work better than drug medications and can effectively get rid of a headache quickly. Listed below are natural remedies for headaches
Home remedies for headaches—the most popular treatment for headaches
Home remedies for headaches are easy-to-do-at-home strategies that are effective in relieving headaches. Listed below are home remedies for headache
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
- Drinking more water and fewer dehydrating beverages, like alcohol or coffee, can also help prevent headaches.
Improve your diet
- Diet improvement is a home remedy for headaches because foods containing phenylalanine and tyramine may increase the frequency of migraine headaches for some people. This is why a diet for headaches is essential. The ideal diet to prevent headaches is a food rich in protein and dietary fiber, like almonds and cherries. This diet for headaches helps to ward off headaches.
Herbal remedies for headaches: an effective natural treatment for headaches
Herbs are a natural treatment for headaches that can be used in many forms. Tea is the most common. However, capsules are now available in almost every herbal formulation.
Listed below are herbal remedies for headaches
- Chamomile is an herbal remedy for a headache with a natural calming effect. Drink a cup of chamomile tea to help calm your nerves and naturally relieve a headache.
- Ginkgo is one of the natural treatments for headaches that can relieve headache pain by dilating blood vessels in the head.
- Feverfew contains substances that inhibit the release of mood hormones in the brain. For best results, use fresh feverfew. When this isn’t available, consume it as tea or in capsule form.
- Ginger is an herbal remedy for a headache that has long been known to relieve and prevent headaches. It is anti-inflammatory and contains substances that relieve pain.
Homeopathic remedies for headaches—the #1 natural treatment for headaches
Homeopathic remedies for headaches can also mitigate current symptoms and prevent future attacks. A homeopath will first comprehensively evaluate your current symptoms and medical history.
After that, homeopathic remedies for headaches are personalized and administered according to your specific symptoms and conditions. This makes it possible to get to the root of the problem and find long-term life relief. The most common homeopathic remedies for headaches include Nux Vomica, Iris Versicolor, Ignatia, Bryonia, Belladonna, Glonoinum, Sepia, etc.
You might have to experiment with a few natural and alternative treatments before finding the right one. If you’re not seeing results from medications or are opposed to side effects, acupuncture, and other alternative treatments can be a potent option.
Homeopathic remedies for headaches are a natural treatment that has become quite popular as an alternative therapy. The approach of homeopathic remedies for headaches lies in treating headaches and the emotional state for complete and long-lasting relief.
Listed below are homeopathic remedies for headaches
- This is a homeopathic remedy for headaches characterized by violent and throbbing pain. Specific environmental reasons like light, sounds, touch, strong smells, and abrupt movements commonly cause these headaches. The headache pain can be temporarily relieved by placing a solid force on the head or sitting.
- This ingredient is used for homeopathic remedies for headaches, seen as frequent aching with a sense of heaviness but less pounding. Even the slightest movement of the head or eyes can worsen this kind of headache. Sickness, constipation, and vomiting are also frequently associated with these headaches. A person with this type of headache typically becomes irritable and may like to be left alone.
Other Alternative Options of natural remedies for headaches
In most cases, natural and alternative treatments can provide long-lasting relief. Acupuncture for headaches is one such option. Homeopathic remedies for headaches are also a powerful alternative.
Many people combine acupuncture with other natural remedies for headaches, expecting additional benefits. You can supplement or support your acupuncture for headaches with other holistic medicine techniques and treatments. Essential oils can assist in mitigating headache symptoms. Studies show that lavender oil, in particular, can be a safe and effective treatment for acute headache pain.
Exercise is also another option. Incorporating an aerobic exercise regimen can prove to be very beneficial. Exercise can relieve stress, improve circulation, increase lung capacity, and have numerous other benefits. An aerobic exercise routine can be specifically helpful for migraine patients.
Acupuncture for headaches: an ancient Chinese natural treatment for headaches
Acupuncture for headaches is a natural, effective, and safe treatment approach. Everyone suffers from headaches, and it’s generally not a big deal. In most cases, people resort to prescription drugs and medications. These medications are an effective remedy, but sometimes, they can lead to adverse effects and complicate minor headaches. This has led to an increasing number of people using alternative and natural treatments like homeopathy and acupuncture to not only deal with current headaches but also prevent future ones. They offer a safe, natural, and effective alternative to conventional therapies.
Headaches are the most common ailment. In the US alone, approximately 45 million people suffer from headaches, and more than 8 million visit their doctors for headaches per year. In today’s modern world, filled with stress and anxiety, headaches have become increasingly prevalent.
You might consider these alternative treatments the next time you experience a headache.
Is acupuncture for headaches effective?
Acupuncture for headaches is a safe, effective, and natural alternative. Research shows that acupuncture is very effective in treating headaches and migraines. It can also significantly reduce the frequency of headaches.
Generally, painkillers are prescribed to deal with mild migraines and headaches. However, preventative drugs are often prescribed if there is no improvement or the patient doesn’t respond positively to standard pain treatments. Sadly, many of these drugs are not well tolerated and produce adverse effects.
As a result, many people have been resorting to acupuncture as a natural treatment for headaches. Acupuncture encourages positive energy flow and eliminates negative energy that generates pain. Western medicine believes acupuncture stimulates numerous body systems, triggering a healing reaction.
This ancient Chinese treatment divides your body into various pressure points and zones. Needles are inserted depending on your condition and symptoms. Acupuncture needles are generally inserted near the nerves of your body, and these needles invigorate your nerves and release endorphins and other hormones that trigger a response from the body. The stimulation of the immune and circulation systems relieves headaches and migraines.
Acupuncture can also mitigate stress and anxiety levels and encourage relaxation. It’s very beneficial for improving overall physical and mental health. Acupuncture for headaches can be beneficial if you suffer from tension headaches and migraines. They can offer remedies for your current state and prevent future attacks.
Acupuncture for Headaches: Shortcomings and Risks
Acupuncture carries minimal risks or chances of adverse effects if carried out by a licensed and well-trained acupuncturist. Occasionally, you may experience mild soreness, fatigue, or bruising, especially if it’s your first acupuncture session.
However, if headache acupuncture treatment is performed using dirty or substandard equipment, severe health risks are likely. The FDA regulates acupuncture needles and only approves them for single use.
Acupuncture risks predominantly occur when the practitioner is underqualified or ill-prepared. Before booking your acupuncture treatment for headaches, research your acupuncturist, and don’t book a session if you feel uncomfortable. Be sure that the needles used for your headache acupuncture session are new and sterile. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them. Make sure you have all your doubts answered before beginning treatment.
Conclusion on natural treatment for headaches
Generally, many people suffer from headaches when an MRI of the skull and UZ of the carotid arteries show no pathological issues. Regular painkillers like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc., can control this kind of headache. They are typically not dangerous, but they can prevent you from carrying out your daily activities. Headaches are one of the main reasons people miss work or school. For a safe and effective approach, consider alternative treatments:
- Acupuncture for headaches
- Homeopathic remedies for headaches
- Herbal remedies for headaches
Ideally, you can also combine various treatments for headaches before finding the most suitable one. These methods can usually deal with headaches better than traditional Western medicine. However, if you still don’t see any improvement, you should consult a doctor, as there may be major underlying issues.