How to Get Rid of a Headache

Mild to moderate headaches can be brought on by a range of problems, including stress, tiredness, tension, food, alcohol, exposure to noise, and colds. [1] To get rid of a headache, try the following tips and techniques.


  1. 1 No idea! It just feels like my head's in a clamp! Try to identify the type of headache that you're experiencing . Most headaches are tension or lifestyle induced and aren't harmful, even though they're painful and can prevent you from fulfilling your tasks. If you experience frequent headaches, a severe headache, a headache that won't respond to analgesics, or the headache is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your doctor or health professional for immediate investigation and a proper diagnosis. The following list of common types of headaches demonstrates the wide variety of possible causes for your headache, which is why it's so important to seek further treatment if your headache issue won't resolve: [2] [3]

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    • Tension headache : The most common type of headache. Many tension headaches take time to develop following physical or emotional stress but can last for days or just hours once it kicks in. This headache tends to form as a result of muscle contraction, and is commonly felt as a band behind the eyes and across the forehead, but the pain can be located anywhere in the head, including on the side or at the back. The headache may be dull or recurrent if the source is not dealt with, and can be accompanied by feeling generally unwell, especially if the sufferer also has anxiety or depression. This type of headache tends to respond well to painkillers, rest, and alleviation of the source of stress. Sometimes a tension headache is accompanied by feeling nauseous.
    • Medication overuse headache : The third most widespread source of headaches is the medication overuse headache, AKA "rebound headache", which stems from withdrawal symptoms from long-term use of pain relief medication (usually for tension headaches). MOH headaches are treatable, requiring cessation of the medication on which the sufferer has grown reliant and often supplemented with prophylactic treatment. [4] The symptoms of an MOH headache are often similar to those of tension headaches.
    • Hangover headache : The pain is real and so is what you drank the night before! Symptoms include throbbing pain, nausea, and feeling generally lousy. Keep up your fluids and be patient.
    • Allergy or food induced headache : With an allergy induced headache. you'll often have a runny nose and watery eyes as well as the headache, and the headache can be generalized. This type of headache tends to be seasonal and is often treated with anti-histamines; speak with your doctor about choices. MSG can induce headaches in sensitive persons; other symptoms will include facial pressure, chest pain, burning sensation on trunk, neck and shoulders and the head will throb. Nitrites and nitrates in meat can induce a moderate to severe headache. And if you eat ice cream or drink a cold drink too quickly, you can induce a temporary " brainfreeze ", or "ice cream headache" which is severe but passes quickly.
    • Migraine headache : With a migraine, the sufferer will feel throbbing pain accompanied by severe nausea and possible vomiting . There are visual problems such as seeing stars, flickering objects, and even partial loss of vision. Some migraines also cause numbness or weakness. Migraines can be caused by reactions to food, stressors, hormonal changes, an accident, and for some people, they are inherited. Migraines require special attention and you should seek advice from your doctor on what to medicate with, as well as finding methods to try and head off getting a migraine.
    • Cluster headache : This is a headache that sits around your eye area and can involve pain, drooping eyelids, nasal discharge and a watery eye. It tends to be more common in males, and can be ongoing. If this type of head pain is occurring, take it seriously and see your doctor for advice and treatment.
    • Headache caused by pain, problems, or tension in another part of the body : Headaches can be caused by sinus blockage, a cold, virus, or fever , coughing, physical exertion, hunger, eyestrain, strained neck or back muscles, arthritis, and by dental problems. In each case, it is essential to get your doctor's examination and advice, as you will probably need wider body treatment and not just a simple focus on the head region. If you have to wear certain items regularly, such as goggles for swimming, or pull your hair back a lot for modeling or stagework, etc., these can cause headaches in their own right often the symptoms will be relieved by removing the item or changing your hair styling method.
    • Accident induced headache : If you involved in an accident in which your head receives a shock , bump, hit, or bang, you may develop a headache. As this can also be accompanied by concussion, skull fractures , internal bleeding, etc., you must seek immediate medical treatment. Post-traumatic headaches can arise as the result of being in an accident or traumatic situation these can be extremely difficult to treat and may need the intervention of a specialist trained in psychology or psychiatry.
    • Aneurysm : You will experience a sudden, "thunderclap" of pain. This pain can mimic a migraine or cluster headache and can be accompanied by a stiff neck, double vision, and loss of consciousness. Get immediate, urgent medical assistance. In this case, surgery and blood pressure stabilization are the main treatments.
    • Tumor induced headache : This is rare and if you have any suspicions that this is an issue, see your doctor immediately. Some symptoms of a brain tumor might include numbness or weakness of limbs, slurred speech, disturbed vision, epileptic fits, personality changes, or poor balance. It is rare for there to be no other symptom than a headache.
    • Altitude sickness headache : If you experience altitude sickness, the pain can affect both sides of the head, or just one side. Usually impacts climbers not using oxygen. Follow the precautions for treating altitude sickness.
    • Other headaches : There are a number of other reasons for triggering a headache that are best diagnosed by a doctor; what is important to understand is that if you have any concerns, see your doctor quickly.
  2. 2 Make it go away! Try different methods for alleviating your headache . Not every method suggested in the following sections will necessarily help, and it remains vital to always be alert for headache symptoms that might require a visit to the doctor. However, with trial and error, you should be able to find various methods that do alleviate your tension or other home-treatable headache and you might find that these work each time. In addition to trying different remedies, it is suggested that you:
    • Keep a record of your headaches . This will help you to identify patterns that bring about headaches, such as after a particularly stressful period at work, after communication problems, after eating certain foods, etc. and will be a way that you can start learning to head off a headache before it begins to develop. If your headaches are hormonally induced (for example, as a result of having a period), knowing when you're likely to experience hormonal fluctuations (and hence headaches) will allow you to plan accordingly to "ease up" on work and home chores at this time of the month.
    • Learn to look at all of your lifestyle factors as a whole, to identify the areas where you can reduce stressors that lead to body tension and headaches. Identifying "precipitating factors", including food, bright lights, alcohol, exercise, stress, changes in your life, sleep problems, physical exertion, etc., will ensure that you learn coping strategies that reduce the likelihood of getting a headache or other stress or tension related symptoms.

Relaxation Techniques

  1. 1 Rest is best for a normal headache Rest . Rest and time out from other people, noise, and thinking about problems can go a very long way to improving a tension induced headache. Lay down in a quiet, darkened room for at least a half hour. [5] Ensure that the bed or couch is comfortable and that your head is supported in a position that doesn't increase the tension to your head. Shut your eyes and simply lie still for the time, or try to sleep.
  2. 2 Oh that's so not helping! Concentrate! Use massage . Massage the ears and ear lobes as well as the neck. If you can, find two tennis balls or racket balls and put them in a sock. Lie on a flat surface and place the two balls just below the base of your skull on the occipital and relax. You may feel sinus pressure or minimal discomfort at first but it will go away. Stay in this position with the still point on the occipital for as long as needed. This is especially helpful for sinus headaches.
    • Have someone else massage your neck and back if possible. The simple touch of someone else who cares about you can relieve a lot of tension instantly.
    • Try massaging the top of the bridge of your nose. This can help sometimes.
  3. 3 Use cold and warm compresses . Apply both compresses alternately to the nape of the neck. Wring a small towel in hot water and place on the neck for two minutes. Repeat for one minute with a towel wrung in cold water. Continue doing this for up to 20 minutes. [6]
  4. 4 Think beauty Visualize peacefulness . Spend some time relaxing your mind. Visualize a calm scene, such as a green forest or blue ocean, and take deep breaths . Without doing anything, have the thought of allowing your neck the freedom to float, and your back the freedom to sink into something very soft. Tension in the neck and shoulders can often be the cause of headaches.
  5. 5 Visualize your headache going away . Imagine your headache as silvery smoke and visualize it seeping out through the roots of your hair. Although this takes concentration and you cannot usually do anything whilst trying this, it can be quite effective.
  6. 6 Relax with someone who knows what to do! Consider acupuncture or acupressure . These can reduce the head pain if performed by a qualified person. Ask to see licensing and check that needles are sterilized in the case of acupuncture. These techniques are good for reducing nausea. Although acupuncture has not fared well in experimental trials (working equally well as [7] or even worse than [8] randomly stabbing someone with needles or making them only think they have been punctured), headaches based on physical tension can benefit greatly even from placebo effects that help the user to relax.
  7. 7 Pressuring parts of the feet for your headache! Try simple reflexology . Use the thumb and index finger of one hand to apply pressure to the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Hold this for a minute or two. This doesn't seem to work for everyone, but for some people, it provides immediate relief. The relief may be temporary, or you may get rid of your headache entirely. Although reflexology is as effective as a placebo treatment [9] (much like with acupuncture, above), there can still be some benefit in pain management from either form, due to the highly subjective nature of pain and tension.

Medication or Topical Treatments

  1. 1 Take a commercial headache preparation (analgesic) available from a pharmacy or supermarket. Take a commercial headache preparation ( analgesic ) available from a pharmacy or supermarket . If you visit a pharmacy, you can describe the symptoms to the pharmacist who may be able to point you to a particular medication that might alleviate the pain. Common painkillers for headaches include aspirin, anti-inflammatories, and acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, etc.). Always follow the instructions precisely as indicated on the product; not doing so can mask or worsen your condition.
    • Stop taking aspirin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)) if you experience indigestion or any sign of increased bruising and do not use aspirin for children under 12. [10]
    • Stronger remedies contain codeine. This can help alleviate pain initially but it has its own side effects, including constipation and could mask more serious symptoms. If you feel as if you need to keep upping the dose, see your doctor.
  2. 2 Use heat or cold. Use heat or cold . Depending on your preference, heat or cold can improve your headache when applied direct to the skin. You can try one or the other, or even alternate between hot and cold: [11]
    • Cold : Apply ice packs . Ice packs have been used for years to treat headaches and they still work. You usually find ice packs at your drugstore. A cold rag on your neck or forehead can also work wonders.
    • Heat : Use a moist hot pack (but not too hot) to loosen up tense muscles. Or apply a warm cloth to the forehead of back of the neck. [12]
    • A cold or warm bath before lying down might be helpful.

Natural Remedies

  1. 1 Be informed . There are a number of natural remedies that might work to treat your headache. As with any natural remedy, always know the side effects and allergy potential of the remedy, as well as the contra-indications, such as not using when pregnant, sick, etc.
  2. 2 Try herbal remedies. Try herbal remedies . There are several herbal remedies that are considered to have value for getting rid of headaches:
    • Feverfew Feverfew : Feverfew can be taken in capsule or tablet form, as a tea, or even eaten in a sandwich (it tastes bitter). There is mixed evidence to support the effectiveness of feverfew but it has been relied upon for centuries, so it might be worth trying. [13] There are no serious side effects to using feverfew although you might experience a sore tongue, mouth ulcers, or nausea, digestive problems and bloating. Coming off long-term use of feverfew can disrupt sleep and cause headaches.
    • Willow bark, magnesium, peppermint, and lavender supplements might help. [14] Note, however, that the scientific support for or extensive studies on the effectiveness of many of these supplements varies. [15] If you feel it that works for you, and you're aware of any potential side effects, then trust your own remedies!
    • Peppermint tea Tea: A cup of tea made from passionflower, rosemary, or lavender might alleviate a headache. [16] Peppermint or chamomile tea can help to relax you.
  3. 3 Use aromatherapy. Use aromatherapy . Aromatherapy preparations vary considerably but some of the more commonly used essential oils for headache treatment include lavender, sweet marjoram, and chamomile. Use for neck massaging, in a bath, or to inhale. [17]
    • For relief of aches and pains: Mix 5 drops rosemary oil, 5 drops nutmeg oil, 5 drops lavender oil in a carrier oil. Massage on the neck and upper back area. [18]
    • If you have a vaporizer, add 7 drops of lavender oil, 3 drops of peppermint oil, and breathe in the relief. Alternatively you could also try sprinkling a few drops of peppermint oil onto a tissue and inhaling deeply several times.
  4. 4 Consider the potential for homeopathy. Consider the potential for homeopathy . If you know how to use homeopathic remedies, an occasional headache might be minimized by using the following suggestions: [19]
    • Bryonia: good for headaches brought about by movement.
    • Ignacia: good for headaches brought on by acute emotional distress.
  5. 5 Drink water. Drink water . Dehydration can be a cause of some headaches. Have a glass of water to see if this helps. This can work well in combination with lying down and resting for a bit.
  6. 6 Use food as a pick-me-up perhaps? Try food remedies . Lack of food can cause a headache, so make sure you've eaten something recently. In addition, some foods are thought to help alleviate headaches. None of the following are guaranteed but they've worked for some people, so they might just work for you:
    • Eat almonds. Eat almonds . Almonds contain pain-relieving chemicals that might reduce your headache symptoms. [20]
    • Try cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper might help to improve your headache. You could try consuming it (the theory being that when the cayenne pepper hits your stomach, endorphins are released), but some research suggests that only topical application works effectively. [21] It is probably best to get your doctor's advice if you're planning to apply this topically!
    • Apply a compress with vinegar (preferably home-made, apple vinegar) to your head.
    • Apply a compress with vinegar (preferably home-made, apple vinegar) to your head. Apply a compress with vinegar (preferably home-made, apple vinegar) to your head.
    • Drink a cup of a caffeine-containing beverage. Drink a cup of a caffeine-containing beverage. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, which can lessen head pain. But too much caffeine may trigger migraines in some people so instead of coffee , you might like to try tea. If taken in conjunction with a painkiller, caffeine can also speed up the medicine's effect, and as a result some painkillers include caffeine. [22] Alternately, you can drink cola . Note that if you're a heavy caffeine or soda drinker, you may experience headaches as part of caffeine withdrawal. A jolt of caffeine will usually help, but in the long run, it's best to break your addiction and the headaches will disappear.


Exercise Techniques

  1. 1 You might feel tied up but stretching can help! Stretch . If you have a tension headache, stretching your neck and back muscles might improve your headache, especially if you have physical tension such as aching shoulders .
  2. 2 Do some yoga. Do some yoga . Yoga aimed at reducing tension can remove or minimize headaches. Simple neck rolling or relaxation yoga exercises are best.
  3. 3 Walk away that headache Take a brisk walk in the fresh air . This can be especially effective if you've been sitting hunched up for a while and you have a lot of challenging thoughts circulating in your head. The exercise will get the blood moving, the new scenery will refresh your outlook, and the fresh air will awaken you. By the time you return home, you might find that you're feeling much better.
  4. 4 Try laughing the headache out! Try laughing or smiling . These can work wonders if it's just a minor headache. Smiling and laughing release endorphins within the brain, working on a positive feedback loop - the more you smile and laugh, the more "feel-good" chemicals the brain releases, and the more of these chemicals it releases, the more you smile and laugh! Endorphins will help to relieve the pain.


Lifestyle Fixes

  1. 1 Don't use a computer while you have a headache! Set up an ergonomically correct workstation at home and work . The way that you're sitting at the desk and using a computer might be contributing to your headache. Be sure that everything is at the right height and distance for your size.
    • Take regular breaks from all desk work and computer use. Exercise your eyes by looking at different distances for a few minutes every hour and do some basic body stretches.
  2. 2 Visit your dietician for advice Implement dietary changes . Although this won't alleviate your headache straight away, making dietary changes in the longer term can potentially remove a source of headaches for you in the future. If you don't know where to begin, see your doctor, a dietician/nutritionist, or a naturopath.
    • Find out whether you have any particular food allergies and eliminate those foods from your diet.
    • Reduce your intake of caffeine. Caffeine can induce headaches. Ironically, withdrawal from caffeine will probably cause a temporary headache but once you're through the withdrawal period, you'll notice a positive difference.
    • You might like to consider avoiding of minimizing potential headache triggering foods, especially those containing MSG, nitrites and nitrates (cured meats), tyramines (aged cheese, wine, beer, and processed meats), sulphites (dried fruits, condiments, and wine), and salicylates (tea, vinegar, and some fruit).
  3. 3 See the physio Treat musculoskeletal problems . If your back or neck are misaligned, or you're suffering from poor posture and muscle tension, it's important to fix this source of pain. While you can try to improve your musculoskeletal problems through exercise such as stretching, yoga, pilates , etc., it is usually important to see a specialist such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopath to assess and treat your condition. [23]
  4. 4 See your dentist See your range of health professionals . If you're experiencing problems in other parts of your head, it can be a good idea to get help that might alleviate the headache. For example:
    • See your dentist : If you have jaw misalignment, tooth decay, abscesses, or post-extraction infection, these can be a source of headaches.
    • See your optician: If you need glasses but it has gone undiagnosed, your eyestrain could be causing unnecessary headaches. Go to the eye doctor right away.
    • See your ear, nose and throat specialist: If you have untreated infections, perforations, or other problems with your ears, nose, and throat, these could cause headaches.
  5. 5 Remain calm Calm down . If you're angry, irritable, frustrated, etc., you may be building up daily muscle tension to a point where it has become unmanageable and causes headaches. Seek professional counseling or psychological help for mapping out some fruitful ways to manage your emotions if they're dominating your approach to life every day.
    • If you clench your jaw or grit your teeth, make an effort to relax your face. Try yawning to reduce facial tension.
    • Practice relaxation exercises before stress-producing events like exams, getting married, taking a driver's test, etc.



  • Having pre-made meals in the freezer can be a huge relief if you have regular tension headaches. This removes a source of stress if you're expected to make dinner, as all you need to do is heat up the meal while you're resting. This alone can be enough to draw off an evening headache after a day's work, as you can take the time to rest peacefully instead of trying to prepare a meal.
  • Don't be afraid to withdraw from other people to rest. Remaining around people and trying to stay perky when you've got a headache can worsen it. You'll be better company after some rest.
  • If possible, undo any tight ponytails or plaits and let your hair loose
  • Pamper yourself with a bath or shower - it makes you feel more refreshed.
  • Rub tiger balm on your temples. The menthol might be able to distract your senses and help alleviate the pain.
  • If it's a sinus headache, try eating a spoonful of honey made in your local area every day. While it won't help immediately, it might help to build up your immunity from local pollens.
  • Avoid elevating your head when resting for a headache keep it as level with your body as possible.
  • If you get migraines frequently, as well as working out a plan with your doctor, try avoiding trigger foods such as cheese or chocolate. Eating and sleeping regularly is also important to ward off migraines. [24]
  • Visit the bathroom. If you haven't already done so, sometimes a trip to the bathroom can alleviate a headache!
  • Relax your tongue. Having your tongue on the roof of your mouth can cause headaches. Keep your tongue off the roof of your mouth, and the pain from your headache should decrease.
  • For some individuals, CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) may cause headaches; try changing them out for incandescent or LED lights if you find that working near CFLs causes headaches.
  • Sleep well. Sleep is an amazing way to get rid of a headache.






  • See a doctor very quickly if you experience any of the following symptoms or signs: a headache that feels worse than any you've ever experienced before, headaches that change in their pattern (for example they're usually mild and suddenly they're severe), the headache feels weird and unfamiliar, the headache is sudden and abrupt, it worsens over days and doesn't stop, the headache comes with neck pain and a fever (it might be meningitis), or you experience epileptic fits, convulsions, vomiting, inability to tolerate bright light, rashes, weakness in any part of your body, or your personality changes. [25]
  • Some medications can cause headaches, such as the birth control pill. Seek advice from your doctor if you're taking a medication regularly and experiencing headaches. The headaches might be a side effect, or an indication of something that needs attention.
  • Be careful using over-the-counter drugs. Overdosing with Tylenol (acetaminophen) is toxic to the liver. Take no more than 2 in a six-hour period! Taking Tylenol with alcohol greatly increases the danger to the liver. Always read the directions before taking any painkillers, and take the smallest effective dose. Avoid taking NSAIDs if you have an ulcer, gastrointestinal problems, indigestion, or asthma. [26]
  • Be careful if pinching nerves to try and stop a headache. Behind the sternocleidomastoid is the carotid artery and vagus nerve. Pinching these off can cause faintness, or possibly even brain damage by disturbing blood flow to the brain. If you feel faint, dizzy, or nauseated while working on that muscle, stop immediately and lie down for several minutes. If symptoms persist, get immediate medical attention.
  • Take head injuries seriously. It's generally a good idea to seek medical advice for any head injury, even if you don't experience concussion, obvious injury, or pain.
  • You can find a ton of headache remedies on the internet or by asking people you know. Many of these are helpful for at least some people, and if they're safe, there's no reason not to try them if other steps don't work. Use common sense when considering any "home remedy." If it seems like it could cause more harm than good, don't use it without consulting your doctor first. If a treatment makes your headache worse, or if you experience other symptoms, stop the treatment and contact your doctor.



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