Ever had a headache so bad you see spots? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 7 adults suffers from migraines worldwide, and it is 3x more common in men than in women. If left unchecked, chronic headache and migraine issues can lead to depression, self-medication, and isolation. That’s why, since 2011, June is recognized as Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM), which raises awareness for these issues and their treatments and encourages people to share their stories and honor those who have died from headache-related issues.
Although we mainly hear of migraines and cluster headaches, there are actually 150 different types of headaches. If you feel a short, stab-like pain in the face and jaw area, for example, you could be suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia. There are various treatment options for all 150 headache types, and visiting a doctor is important to know which treatment option is right for you. If you are currently experiencing a headache-related issue here are 5 things you can do right to alleviate the pain.
Determine where the pain is located and how often you feel it
Keep a record of every headache you get and where the pain is located. Take note of any other symptoms and potential triggers, such as lack of sleep or a certain food item. If you record 15 or more headaches a month, you are suffering from a chronic headache and should talk to a doctor, as headaches are often side effects of other health issues.
Sit in a dark room
One of the most common migraine triggers is photophobia or sensitivity to light. One theory for this suggests that cells in the retina known as melanopsin photoreceptors get turned out when exposed to light. This may trigger the area in your brain that activates when you experience a migraine. The area can stay active for up to half an hour after the light has been removed, so turn off the lights and give it some time.
Get a massage
A massage is any touch that rubs, presses, or manipulates the skin and muscles. It helps reduce stress and tension, which are huge triggers for headaches. One study reported a 34% reduction in migraines during the weeks that participants had a massage, compared to the 7% reduction in those who didn’t get a massage. Massages around the neck area are especially helpful at relieving pain and tension around the head area. Beurer offers several massaging tools that could come in handy when experiencing a painful headache. Check them out here.
Take over-the-counter pain medication
Over-the-counter medications are great for relieving pain when a sudden headache develops and there is no opportunity to sit in a dark room or get a massage. Verywell Health has created a comprehensive list of the best headache and migraine medicines to take. Motrin IB Liquid Gels are best for migraines, while Aleve Liquid Gels are best for tension-type Headaches.
Use hot and cold compresses
Applying hot and cold compresses to your neck and head is a great way to help relieve the pain. An ice pack has a numbing effect on the area, dulling the pain, while a hot compress relaxes tension around the area. If you suffer from tension-type headaches, heating may work better than an ice pack, but if you are experiencing a migraine an ice pack will probably do the trick. Try our heat therapy devices and see which one works for you.
Seek emergency care if you have any of the following symptoms:
Headache after an injury or fall
A very sharp and sudden headache
Fever, stiff neck, rash, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking
Pain that worsens after treatment
Click here if you want to know more about National Migraine and Headache Month and how to get involved.