When suffering from a headache, the easiest treatment always seems to be taking pain relievers. But, when taken too frequently, pain relievers can start doing more bad than good. Here we go over the best medication-free treatments for each type of headache.  

Tension Headaches

The most common type of headache, tension headaches cause mild to moderate pain on either one or both sides of the head, neck, or shoulders. The pain can feel like a dull ache or pressure inside the head, and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire week. Causes of tension headaches can include: neck and muscle tension, missed meals, lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, or stress.

Treatments:

  • Meditation
  • Neck stretches
  • Massages
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Warm showers
  • Heat compresses

Sinus headache

Caused by pain in the sinuses, sinus headaches affect the cheeks, brows, and forehead. The pain can feel like a pressure or fullness, and can be made worse by bending forward or lying down. Other symptoms of a sinus headache include stuffy nose and the feeling of fatigue. These headaches are most commonly caused by allergies, sinus infections, viral upper respiratory infections, and colds.

Treatments:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids  
  • Using a humidifier or saltwater nasal spray to relieve congestion.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines can cause moderate to severe pulsating-like pain. They can last between four to seventy-two hours, and can affect one or both sides of the head. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. People who suffer from migraines may have specific triggers, such as stress, hormones, too much or too little sleep, and certain foods, drinks, and activities.

Treatments:  

  • Resting in a dark, quiet room
  • Using a hot or cold compress on the head or neck
  • Gentle massages
  • Small amounts of caffeine
  • Avoiding or managing any personal triggers  

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches happen in patterns, usually around the same time everyday, several times a day, or on and off over the course of a few weeks. They can last from minutes to hours, and have a sudden sharp, needle-like pain that usually affects one side of the face near the eye or temple area. They can cause the eye on the affected side to swell, tear, or redden, and can cause agitation or restlessness.

Treatments:

  • Oxygen therapy

Medication overuse headaches

Medication overuse headaches are caused by excessive use of pain relief medications. These headaches occur after, at least, three months of overuse and can cause a dull, throbbing, or achy feeling that can last all day. Other symptoms can include nausea, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. For serious cases and dependencies, consult with a doctor.

Treatments:

  • Complete cut off of pain relief medications OR
  • Gradually using less and less pain relief medication

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