How can I get Rid of a Headache?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
A packet of naproxen sodium pills, which can help with a headache.
A packet of naproxen sodium pills, which can help with a headache.

The term headache actually covers a wide spectrum of ailments, from short-lived tension headaches to sinus headaches to full-blown migraines. There are literally hundreds of different medications, relaxation techniques, and medical devices designed to get rid of a headache, but the key is to identify the source of the pain first. A medication designed to get rid of a headache caused by stress, for example, may have little to no effect on a headache triggered by sinus congestion.

An eye exam may be helpful in determining the cause of a headache.
An eye exam may be helpful in determining the cause of a headache.

One way to get rid of a headache is to take analgesic medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, or sodium naproxen. These medications work in different ways to get rid of a headache, however, so it pays to read the label for further advice. Some headache sufferers find that aspirin-type pills augmented with caffeine work very well on tension headaches, since the caffeine restricts the flow of blood through veins. If a person with a dependence on caffeine does not get an adequate supply through caffeinated beverages, he or she might develop a headache from withdrawal.

Aspirin may help relieve a headache.
Aspirin may help relieve a headache.

Another way to get rid of a headache is through self-massage and relaxation. Using acupressure on the source of the pain may cause the muscles to relax. An ice mask placed around the eyes and temples may get rid of a headache caused by sinus pressure or stress. Some headache sufferers may want to try using heat instead of cold, but this could make some types of headaches worse as the blood flow is increased. Simply turning off the lights and lying down for a few minutes might provide some relief from severe tension headaches.

Ice packs relieve the pain from sinus headaches.
Ice packs relieve the pain from sinus headaches.

In the case of more serious types of headaches, such as "hatband headaches" or migraines, stronger medications and relaxation techniques may have to be employed. A migraine sufferer may have to find a completely darkened room in order to combat light sensitivity. Prescription pain medications may be more beneficial than taking heavy doses of over-the-counter headache medicines or mixing different types of painkillers.

Tension headaches are usually short-lived.
Tension headaches are usually short-lived.

While finding ways to get rid of a headache may be a sufferer's first line of thought, some types of headaches may indicate more serious medical concerns. Frequent tension headaches could indicate hypertension or high blood pressure. Headaches caused by eyestrain often indicates a need for a thorough eye exam or an adjustment to a current corrective lens prescription. Severe headaches which are not easily alleviated through normal channels may be symptoms of very serious conditions such as brain tumors, blood clots or potential aneurysms. If a headache doesn't improve within a few hours to a day, a more thorough medical examination may be necessary.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

pastanaga

@Fa5t3r - That usually doesn't work for me. Although I tend to get tension headaches when I'm stressed and I know it's not because of blood vessels. I went to a doctor with one once and he pressed a part of my neck and I almost fainted with the pain. He explained it was sensitive because I was holding too much tension in that area and the tendons and nerves were inflamed.

Basically I should try to relax more and if all else fails, to take some anti-inflammatories. The worst thing is that having the headache makes me tense, which makes the headache worse, so it's a bit of a catch-22.

Fa5t3r

@croydon - Water seems to be the best way to get rid of a headache in general. Everyone in my family will jump to suggest drinking water if someone mentions they have a headache. And that is the first thing you should try. It makes sense, because headaches are usually caused by the blood vessels in your brain contracting and hydration can help them to open up again.

croydon

If you've got a sinus headache, the thing that always works for me is clearing out my sinuses by snorting salt water. It hurts a lot and it can be very difficult to make yourself breath in the water through your nose, but if a blockage is what is causing the headache, then this will get rid of it.

Some people say that you should do this regularly, even if you don't have a headache, but you have to be careful about that. Use sterilized water, because you can introduce bacteria to your nasal passages if you don't. And have a lot of tissues prepared.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • A packet of naproxen sodium pills, which can help with a headache.
      A packet of naproxen sodium pills, which can help with a headache.
    • An eye exam may be helpful in determining the cause of a headache.
      An eye exam may be helpful in determining the cause of a headache.
    • Aspirin may help relieve a headache.
      Aspirin may help relieve a headache.
    • Ice packs relieve the pain from sinus headaches.
      Ice packs relieve the pain from sinus headaches.
    • Tension headaches are usually short-lived.
      Tension headaches are usually short-lived.
    • A patient who experiences frequent headaches should consult her doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns.
      A patient who experiences frequent headaches should consult her doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns.
    • Some headaches are caused by tooth infections.
      Some headaches are caused by tooth infections.
    • Medications like ibuprofen can help get rid of a headache.
      Medications like ibuprofen can help get rid of a headache.
    • Some types of headaches may indicate more serious medical concerns.
      Some types of headaches may indicate more serious medical concerns.