We all want to know how to get rid of a headache, right?
It's time to get to the bottom of yours, once and for all! Today we're explaining the different types of headaches, including what causes them and all the best ways to treat them.
Whether you're looking to stop an existing headache, learn more about natural headache remedies, or even just learn more about what causes this pesky pain, you've come to the right place.
Types of headaches
Most people don't know, but not all headaches are the same. Some are more severe, triggered by different things, and manifest themselves in different ways.
We all talk about having 'migraines', but how do we know our headaches really belong in that category?
Migraine headaches are severe and intense. They can last for a while (up to several days in some cases) and usually flare up a few times a month.
If your headache is indeed a migraine, you'll experience a throbbing or hammering sensation, and possibly nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and loss of appetite.
Migraine headaches can be quite debilitating, and it's not uncommon to feel weak and unable to carry out everyday tasks whilst you're suffering.
Cluster headaches are even more severe than migraines and have both exterior and internal symptoms. They are so-called 'cluster' as they usually happen in twos or threes, on the same day. The 'attacks' can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours and are more common in men than women.
Cluster headaches will cause a throbbing or constant piercing/burning pain behind one eye. The affected eye will droop and redden, the pupil will dilate and the eye will tear. The nostril on the same side can also run and become stuffy.
Tension headaches are your everyday headaches. They can cause mild to moderate pain and usually come on sporadically and go relatively quickly.
What is says on the tin - sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinuses and show their symptoms across the nose, forehead and cheekbones.
You may also experience 'cold' symptoms such as a runny nose, earache, fever and more.
Headache symptoms vary depending on the kind of headache you're suffering from.
If your headache symptoms also include an aching jaw, blurred or double vision or a sore scalp, contact your GP immediately.
Causes of headaches
Wondering why you seem to get so many headaches? It's time to get to the bottom of what's causing them, once and for all.
In order to understand the cause of your headache, it's important to know the difference between Primary and Secondary headaches.
Primary headaches are not caused by any outside effects - that's to say, they're stand-alone problems caused by the body. Overactive blood vessels, or problems with muscles and nerves of the head and neck can all bring on a primary headache.
If you develop a headache midway through the day, it's probably a primary headache.
Secondary headaches are the opposite of primary headaches - they're directly linked to another condition.
They can be caused by a wide range of things, from mild and more severe issues, including hangovers, blood clots, dehydration, brain-tumours, teeth-grinding at night, and sight problems.
Headache remedies - top tips
Headaches aren't always a sign of something serious. There are some very simple, everyday things that can bring on a headache.
If you're suffering, here are five things you should do immediately to try and ease your headache symptoms.
1. Let your hair down
Are you a fan of the top knot? A high, messy bun may look great, but it can put a lot of pressure on your scalp and cause a headache.
If you're beginning to feel a headache coming on, it may be time to give your head a break for a while. Let your hair down to relieve pressure and give your head a chance to de-stress.
2. Dim the lights
Bright lights are unlikely to be the sole cause of your headache, but they may aggravate an existing one.
If you have a headache, one of the first things you should do is dim the lights to avoid any extra strain on the eyes.
3. Opt for liquid painkillers
If you're using medication as a headache remedy, we recommend choosing liquid over tablets.
Liquids are absorbed into the bloodstream much faster, and will clear up your headache much quicker than the tablet alternatives.
4. Bin your gum
That minty freshness might make your breath smell great, but it won't do your headache any good.
If you have a headache, it's best to dispose of your gum as quickly as possible, as the repetitive chewing motion will only aggravate it.
5. Avoid caffeine
Although a link between caffeine and headaches has never been scientifically proven, there are many people that claim to have experienced headaches after drinking one too many coffees.
If you have a headache, ditch your afternoon coffee for a decaf herbal tea, or even better, hot water and lemon.
Headache remedies - natural solutions
1. Apply hot or cold
Heat is probably one of the easiest headache remedies you can try.
If your headache's really getting to you, you can try applying hot or cold packs to your head or neck.
As a general rule, stick to hot heat packs for tension headaches, and cold for more severe headaches like migraines.
TOPTIP: Avoid extreme temperatures! The idea is to soothe your headache, not shock it.
2. Using essential oils as a headache remedy
Essential oils can be a wonderful natural remedy for a whole range of conditions.
As far as headaches go, it's peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary that will help.
Lavender and rosemary are known for their tension and pain-reducing properties, whilst lavender and peppermint can reduce stress - another cause of headaches.
Want to try it?
- Apply peppermint across the forehead to relieve pain.
- Rub lavender oil into temples to calm and relax.
- Dilute 2-4 drops of eucalyptus oil with a neutral oil and apply to the chest, back of the neck, temples and forehead to treat sinus headaches.
- Add one drop of rosemary oil to your tea to reduce headache pain.
3. Close your eyes
If you have a severe headache, such as a migraine, your body will be more sensitive to many things.
One of these is light. Scientists are still working to clarify the link between an increase in headache symptoms and light, but until they do, it's best to avoid it.
Close your eyes, and preferably, head to a dark room to avoid causing any extra tension in your poor head.
4. Drink basil tea to reduce hangover symptoms
You may never have heard of basil tea before, but it's about to become your new favourite hot drink.
In India, the basil plant has a historic use as a healing herb. It's particularly effective for the treatment of headaches thanks to its muscle-relaxing properties.
To take orally, place 3-4 leaves in hot water and add a spoonful of honey. Sip slowly and be astounded as your headache disappears.
I think you're going to like this next one...
5. A hot bath is one of the simplest headache remedies
Aaaand relax. When doesn't a hot bath make us feel better?
Stress is one of the common causes of headaches, especially tension headaches. Sometimes, a bit of me time is all we need to feel tippity-top again.
If you're still suffering with a headache at the end of a long day, turn the taps on, strip off, and step into the tub for a long, relaxing soak.
If nothing else, it'll make your skin feel silky soft!
6. Could your headache symptoms be a sign of low-magnesium?
There are several studies that have found people with migraines often also have low levels of magnesium.
Magnesium is absolutely essential for our health, and helps our body carry out daily functions successfully.
There are many types of magnesium, but it's magnesium oxide that could help your headache.
Want to get rid of your headaches?
Try taking magnesium oxide tablets at a recommended dosage of 400-500mg/day.
7. Cayenne pepper could cure your headaches
Why does cayenne pepper work as a headache remedy?
This spice increases blood circulation and equalises blood pressure, thereby relieving tension and pressure in the head.
Best of all, it's extremely easy to take, and chances are, you probably already have some lying around at home.
Place 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper in a cup of hot water. Allow it to cool, and sip slowly. You may also want to have a glass of cold water on hand, as cayenne tea can be pretty hot!
8. Could crushed cloves get rid of your headache symptoms?
Bad head? If you have some clothes to hand, this natural headache remedy could be worth a shot.
Cloves have cooling and pain-relieving properties which will do wonders for your headache.
Cloves can either be inhaled or massaged into skin.
- Crush a few cloves with a pestle and mortar and place inside a handkerchief and inhale slowly until the pain subsides.
- Add a few drops of clove oil to some melted coconut oil and massage into your forehead and temples.
9. Massage your headache symptoms away
Massages are always a good idea, right?
Learn some easy massage techniques, and you'll be able to banish your headache symptoms at home for free.
There are several trigger points to focus on when performing a headache massage. Learn some simple techniques in the short video below.
This next natural headache remedy really is a weird one...
10. Apples can have headache-reducing effects
Believe it or not, research has shown that even the smell alone of green apples can have a positive impact on the intensity of your headache.
If you fancy giving this fruity headache remedy a punt, cut a green apple in half and inhale deeply. Alternatively, you can choose to eat it normally when you first experience signs of a headache.
11. Treat migraines with ginger
This everyday ingredient is often overlooked.
Did you know ginger oil contains over 200 different substances? That's 200 different ways it can nourish you.
One of its main benefits is the anti-inflammatory properties, which helps relieve any pressure around the head-area and thus, your headache.
To make your own ginger tea at home, add 6, peeled slices of raw ginger to a pan containing 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes, add the juice of half a lime and one tablespoon of honey and enjoy.
12. Amazing almond benefits
Almonds really are amazing. They're absolutely jam-packed full of nutrients, including salicin (which has anti-inflammatory properties), vitamin E and magnesium, which we've already learnt can help your headache.
Given its impressive properties, it's no wonder almonds are beneficial for headaches.
Swap your daily chocolate bar for a small handful of almonds and do your headache a favour today.
13. Does yoga help with headaches?
We're always amazed at the power of natural remedies.
Yoga can be an extremely beneficial hobby to get into, whether you suffer from headaches regularly or not.
Not only does yoga reduce stress, but it stretches out the body, relieving tension. The deep breathing and improved circulation during yoga practise in particular should help ease your headache symptoms.
New to yoga? Watch the beginner's video below and try it for yourself
Do you suffer from headaches a lot? We'd love to hear about your experience & any tips you ay have in the comments below!
Thanks for the tips, some I have never heard of but am happy to try. I suffer from chronic migraine so am keen to try natural remedies. Thanks again.
Hi Jacqui, I'm glad you found some of our tips useful. Let us know how you get on with the natural remedies! We hope they help :)
There are several more symptoms associated with migraine headaches: *Speech can be affected. It can become slurred or confused * Vision may become disturbed - flashing lights, zig-zag lines, a "hole" in the vision, none of which disappear even when the eyes are closed. * Numbness of facial muscles, especially on one side. These symptoms can be similar to a stroke, and in fact, migraine headaches have been compared to mini-strokes.
Hi Jay, Thanks for highlighting just how serious migraine headaches can be. These symptoms are definitely worth looking out for.
Brilliant - thank you
Hi Steph - Some excellent remedies here for different types of headache. When I was younger, I used to get frequent migraines - until I stopped taking the Pill! Here's something that works for me on tension headaches: Sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Imagine the shape and size of your headache. Think what colour it is. Turn this shape/size/colour into a liquid and put it in a jug (all in your imagination). Take the jug to a sink and pour the contents down the plughole, turn on the tap and wash it all away. Open your eyes - and hopefully your headache is gone! By the way, you might want to change "next" for "neck" under Remedies - Natural Solutions - Want to try it?
Hi Sandy, Interesting that your migraines stopped when you quit the pill - it's worrying what such a small tablet can do! Your method for migraines sounds very interesting. I'll definitely be trying it next time. Oh, and thanks for the typo tip ;)
Hiya! I find it I am going on a night out with friends and am having a few refreshments!! I leave a glass of water and a couple of aspirin tablets next to my bed! When I come home after a night out after having a few refreshments!! I take the aspirin before going to bed. I have done this for years and no matter how drunk I have been I never have woken up with a hangover! Believe me it really works.xx
That's pretty amazing, James!
My headache doesnt go,it feels as if pepper entered my head.it made me barbe my hair bt its still not going
Hi Lilian, what have you tried doing so far to remedy your headache?
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