- Drink lots of water - I can't stress that enough. One of the most common causes of a headache is dehydration. This is a big contributor to the headaches that often accompany hangovers as well. Also, we've become a society of caffeine addicts and one problem with that is that caffeine is a diuretic and instead of quenching your thirst, it will actually make you more thirsty because you will be expelling water that your body needs to maintain balance. In other words, don't let coffee, tea, and sodas become a substitute for water. Your body will thank you. I'm not saying that you need to avoid all caffeine, just make sure you drink water, too.
- Make sure you're not withdrawing - Along with our caffeine consumption is addiction. You may be addicted to caffeine without even realizing it. Fortunately, if that is what is causing your headache, it's easily solved with more caffeine. It doesn't fix the root of the problem, but it does fix your headache.
- Stretch your muscles - When we are under tension or stress, we feel it a lot in our shoulders and our necks. That's what causes tension headaches. Take steps to directly relieve some of that tension by slowly stretching each muscle from your waist to your head. Be methodical and massage each joint. Yes, it will take 5 minutes, but it could be part of your headache solution. Besides, it just feels good.
- Go for a 5 minute walk. This has a number of effects. First, if gives you fresh air. This could clue you to any sinus problems that are causing your headache. Also, it will force you to refocus your eyes. We often forget that eyestrain is also a prime cause of headaches. The best way to get rid of eyestrain is to focus on something far away once in a while. And the best way to focus on something far away is to step outside.
- Know your over-the-counter pain relievers. Personally, I've found Excedrine® (or the generic alternative) is the best for headaches. It's even got approval by the US FDA to specifically claim it's recommended for migraines. It has the the ingredient in Tylenol® as well as aspirin and a little bit of caffeine. If your headache is sinus-based, you probably want Sudafed® or Sudafed-PE®. If allergies are making your headache worse, Claritin© is your friend. Just follow the directions on the bottles and don't take too much or whenever it's not indicated. Used safely, over-the-counter medications can be a big help if you're taking the right medicine for the right symptom.
Lastly, I can't stress enough that if you have headaches that persist for days or are too severe for you to handle, don't be afraid to see a doctor. A headache can be a symptom of something more. Also, there are medications for migraines that could be helpful if your doctor recommends. One such drug, Imitrex® is even available (by prescription only) to be used on an as-needed basis with not only pills but with a quick-acting nasal spray or a faster-acting injectible pen.
Remember, if you're in pain, it's your body telling you something isn't right. If you're in ongoing pain, you deserve to find out what is causing it and what can be done to relieve it.
Nobody should accept pain as "just the way it is".
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