Throbbing, stabbing, blinding, crushing, hellacious... these are a few of the words we commonly use – plus others we should not repeat! Headaches strike for all kinds of reasons, and usually when you can least afford the downtime.
So, when the first telltale signs appear, go into immediate damage control with these non-drug fixes. They might do the trick while helping you identify underlying reasons.
What makes it ache?
That awful feeling comes on when the tissues and nerves surrounding the brain become irritated or inflamed by a ‘trigger’ and begin to spasm or contract over the skull. People have different triggers, but the most common are either physical or mental, sometimes self-induced. Check yourself for the following:
■ Hunger, thirst, dehydration.
■ Eye strain – staring too long at screens, needing a new eyewear prescription.
■ Hangover – too much alcohol and not enough water can lead to dehydration and a killer headache.
■ Poor posture at work, at home or while driving.
■ Jaw clenching, dental problems.
■ Stress, anxiety, depression.
■ Monosodium glutamate sensitivity. MSG is a flavour enhancer used in cooking and many processed foods.
■ Sinus infection, allergies.
■ Insufficient sleep.
■ Hormonal fluctuations.
■ Medication overuse. Continually relying on either prescription or OTC meds to control acute headaches can result in the drugs becoming less effective over time and lead to ‘rebound’ headaches creating a catch 22 situation.
Natural headache remedies
Try peppermint, rosemary, lavender or eucalyptus essential oils. Breathe in slowly and deeply.
Sip ginger tea. To make your own, add 2–4 Tbsp grated ginger to 3 cups boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes. If you need sweetness, add a little raw honey to your cup.
Sniff... carefully! Mix 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper with 2 Tbsp warm water. Dip a cotton bud in the solution and dab just inside each nostril.
Sip water to zap it. Dehydration will bring on a headache in double time. Are you hungry? Think protein, wholegrains and healthy fats before reaching for sweets.
Soothe with heat. Increase blood flow to constricted areas such as neck and shoulders. A hot water bottle or microwaveable wheat- filled pack are great. Get wheat packs from chemists or online. For more info, visit wheatbags.com.au.
Step outside. Fresh air and a change of pace and scenery can work wonders.