Millions of people across the country suffer from headaches everyday. While some headaches can be from the usual sources such as not enough sleep, too much alcohol, low blood sugar, high stress, or loud noises, many can come from a myriad of causes and can be quite severe and debilitating. Not only can headaches cause pain but for some can also cause vertigo, malaise, fatigue, nausea, and visual problems. There are many medications that can be used to treat headaches but a few small changes to your lifestyle, including stress management, diet, and exercise can make all of the difference and have you back on your feet in no time.
If you find yourself taking headache medication more often than you’d like, try these drug-free approaches next time you feel a headache looming.
If you find yourself with a headache after partying too hard the night before or maybe even a long, hard sweaty workout, the pain you feel may be in large part due to dehydration. Begin to rehydrate yourself with water and head toward the foods that naturally have higher water content. These include watermelon, lettuce, soup, cucumbers, smoothies, spinach, pears, applesauce, bell peppers, mangos, carrots, apples, grapes, berries, oranges, yogurt, and nonfat milk. To prevent a dehydration headache in the first place, remember to treat your night out as you would your workout and rehydrate with water along the way.
A good ol’ cuppa joe or tea may be just the right medicine if you are suffering with a headache. A moderate dose of caffeine can help to relieve a headache (especially the type that are pounding or throbbing) by constricting the blood vessels that go to the head. And the water used to make the coffee or tea can also help to keep you hydrated. A double dose of headache relief!
Out run that headache! It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you have a headache, or feel one coming on, but aerobic activity such as walking, cycling, swimming, or running can actually stop an impending headache in its tracks by stimulating the production of pain-reducing chemicals from the brain. If you can get outside for some fresh air and exercise, even better!
Low blood sugar is a common cause of headaches in many people. Our bodies are finely tuned machines that like and need a certain level of glucose (food!) in our bloodstream at any given time to function. Go too long without eating and your body will punish you with a headache. It’s nature’s way of helping to maintain homeostasis in the body so we can perform at our best. Your day should include five small meals that are even spaced throughout the day. Fresh whole, plant-based foods are best to nourish the body and to avoid the headache-causing preservatives and chemicals of processed foods.
If you find yourself rubbing your temples and neck after a long day at the office to relieve your head pain, you are most likely suffering from a tension headache. Possibly along with the tension, you forgot to eat and drink fluids throughout the day so now you have a double whammy of a headache! First, get up for a short walk, drink water, and eat a small healthy snack. Next, give yourself a gentle massage to your neck, temples and scalp along with some neck stretches such as turning your head side to side slowly or dropping your ear toward your shoulder on each side. This may not completely undo that long painful day at the office but definitely can lessen the discomfort and having you feeling better in a short amount of time.