Do you often wonder on how to get rid of a headache at school or at your work? Treating a headache doesn’t always require intensive medical care. In most cases, over-the-counter medications, relaxation techniques, and simple lifestyle and dietary changes are enough to prevent or control it. In this article, you’ll learn some great tips to get rid of a headache in 5 ways.
But before we discuss its various medical and alternative treatments, it’s good to know some important facts about a headache in order for you to know how to get rid of it effectively and safely.
What You Need to Know About Headaches
Compared to men, women are more likely to experience headaches.  They can be so painful and crippling that they can affect people’s finances, causes a decline in work or school productivity, put a strain on relationships and social life, and have a negative impact on their overall quality of life. Sufferers may also develop other health problems, such as stroke and digestion problems. 
Headaches have economic costs. In the United States, migraine headache alone costs between $5.6 and $17.2 billion in lost work productivity. 
The pain intensity, duration, quality, and location differ for each type of headache. You may feel it on your entire head or on one side only, more specifically in and around one eye, around or behind the forehead and/or cheekbones, in front of the ears, above the eyes, in the back of the upper neck, and on top or back of the head.
There are two classifications of headache: primary and secondary. Primary headaches include cluster, tension, and migraine headaches. Secondary headaches happen because of an underlying condition, such as dehydration, high blood pressure (hypertension), sinusitis, brain blood clot, flu, medication misuse, and panic attacks.
Primary headaches are stand-alone illnesses, not due to a disease. Sometimes, changes in the brain’s chemical activity or over activity of the brain’s pain-sensitive structures, such as muscles and blood vessels, could cause them.
If you have a headache less than 15 days per month, it’s called an episodic tension headache. But when it’s more than 15 days per month, it’s called a chronic headache.
The Different Types of Headaches
Also called stress headache, tension headache is common among adults. The pain in tension-type headache is dull and throbbing, which may come with feelings of tightness or pressure around the forehead that may spread in or from the neck.
Cluster headache is extremely painful and comes back several times a day for weeks or even months at a time. You’ll generally feel the pain, which could last for 15 minutes, on one side of your head, concentrated over the forehead, one temple, or in or around one eye. It’s relatively easy to monitor because it strikes at the same time each day (usually at night) or year, such as spring or fall.
Migraine headache is a life-long condition that mostly affects women and those who are 35 to 45 years old. Some sufferers know it’s going to happen because they get auras, which are sensory disturbances (light sensitivity, seeing halos, repetitive beeping sounds, and certain smells).
The pain in migraine headache is severe, pounding, and could last from 4 hours to 3 days. Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea,and poor appetite.
Sinus headache is a symptom of sinusitis (inflamed sinuses). This type of headache causes persistent, dull, and throbbing pain in the forehead, eyebrow, nose bridge, or cheekbones, which could become worse if you bend or lie down. It’s different from migraine headache because it doesn’t happen with other symptoms, like severe one-sided head pain, light or sound sensitivity, and nausea or vomiting.
Medication-induced headache, also called medication misuse headache and analgesic rebound headache, mostly affects people who are likely to develop migraine or has a family history of migraine. This is caused by excessive or prolonged (3 months or more) intake of painkillers or headache-specific medications, like triptans.
In most cases, this could strike every day or almost every day. The pain is generally worse when you wake up. Other symptoms include mood problems (anxiety, irritability, and depression), difficulty concentrating, abnormal lack of energy (asthenia), nausea, and memory problems.
Consult your doctor for severe or persistent headaches
Successful treatment of headaches will depend on proper diagnosis and presenting symptoms. Your doctor may perform the following things to determine the possible cause of your headache:
- Your doctor may first conduct an interview to establish your health history. He or she wants to know if you have a preexisting health problems that may be causing your headaches.
- Your doctor may perform a general physical examination, specifically on your neck and head. This is to identify other signs and symptoms that might be associated with an illness that causes headaches. Examples are nausea, vomiting, fever, and abnormalities in your heart rate, blood pressure, and/or breathing. Your doctor may also check your eyesight, hearing, facial movements, eye movements, reflexes, balance, coordination, muscle strength, and pupil constriction.
- Laboratory tests may include MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scan. These will help your doctor find out if you’re suffering from a medical problem, such as brain tumor or bleeding due to weak blood vessels in the brain (aneurysm).
- If your doctor doesn’t find signs of an underlying medical condition, his or her focus shifts to diagnosing primary headache. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, management should be based on the intensity and recurrence of the headache, as well as their effect on a person’s way of living. 
How To Get Rid Of A Headache At School Or At Work
Place a cool, damp cloth to your forehead. You can use a paper towel, napkins, or toilet paper if you can’t find anything while being at work or school. Immerse the cold cloth in cold water again when it cools down and try to relax.
Seated neck release
While sitting in a comfortable position, try to stretch your tight neck by placing your left hand on the right side of your head and gently tilting the head to the left. Hold for a few breaths and then switch sides. Repeat one more time.
Poor posture can lead to tight muscles and tight muscles may cause a tension headache. You can combat this issue by pulling your shoulder blades together. This will enable the blood to flow to your upper back muscles and shoulders which can relieve your headache.
Sit up straight to relieve neck tension and headache. While you are sitting up, press your shoulder blades together and push your neck back to stretch the front part of your neck. Repeat this exercise for about 10 times.
Almonds contain salicin which can aid with your headache. Almonds work best for a mild headache.
Relax your jaw
Many people clench their jaws when stressed. If you are one of them, try to relax your jaw by yawning. This will stretch the tight muscles and help aid oxygen to your brain which can reduce your headache.
How To Stop Headaches From Happening
Prevention is still the best way to save you from another headache attack. If you don’t get rid of it quickly enough, especially when you’re at work or school, it will most likely affect your productivity or stay at work at all.
Here are some of the great ways that you could use to avoid headaches:
Start a headache diary
This is one of the easiest ways to identify the causes of your headache by tracking your symptoms and triggers. It will also help your doctor make a final diagnosis and assess if medications are working. If you don’t how to start a headache diary, you can download The National Headache Foundation form.
How do you start a headache diary? What should you write in it? Your diary should include the following information:
- Date and time your headache started and ended
- Pain intensity – Rate each headache episode from 1 to 10, with 10 as being severe. Also, don’t forget to describe the type of pain you’re feeling (dull, pounding, stabbing, etc.).
- Symptoms that come with your headache
- Possible triggers – Some of the common headache triggers are stress, excessive exhaustion, menstruation, fasting, caffeine withdrawal or consuming too much of it, sleep deprivation, weather changes, exercising too hard, smoking, and certain smells, and flashing or bright lights.
- Dietary supplements and medications you’re taking – Make sure to include the name of the medication, dosage, and how effective it is.
- Relief(none, moderate, or complete)
- Other factors, such as menstruation, weather, eating habits and patterns (if you miss or delay meals), amount of sleep you get, and school, social, and work activities
Engage in Regular Physical Activity and Exercise
Low physical activity is associated with increased prevalence of headaches, particularly primary headaches.  Regular exercise and physical activity help lower the prevalence and severity of headaches. Whenever you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which interact with brain receptors that lower your pain perception.
Things to remember when exercising to avoid headaches:
- Don’t forget to eat a snack or solid pre-workout meal one to two hours before you plan to exercise. Engaging in exercise or rigorous physical activity causes low blood sugar, which can trigger a headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion, and irritability. But, choose what you eat and drink carefully. Avoid those that can trigger headaches, such as alcoholic beverages, cheese, foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate), banana and other tyramine-rich foods, and processed meats.
- Keep yourself hydrated before, while, and after you exercise. Thirst and lack of sweat when doing moderate to intense exercises are signs that you’re dehydrated.
- Warm up properly before exercising and cool down after. In general, try to warm up and cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Location is also important, especially if your headache is triggered by changes in weather or altitude.
- Pick headache-friendly exercises. com suggests low-impact exercises, such as yoga, light cardio (walking), Pilates, and other core exercises.
Take Pain Medications (The Right Way)
Over-the-counter painkillers are the typical first-line of treatment for headaches. Some of the common over-the-counter painkillers that you could take to stop a headache include Excedrin (which combines caffeine, acetaminophen, and aspirin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).
Generally, these drugs work well to ease head pain and cause fewer adverse effects compared to prescription painkillers. Possible adverse effects of over-the-counter painkillers include :
- Acetaminophen: changes in blood count and liver damage
- Aspirin: heartburn (due to acid bringing up again into the esophagus or food pipe), narrowing of the airways, severe allergic reaction, and ulcers
- Naproxen and ibuprofen: rash, gastrointestinal upset (nausea and vomiting) or bleeding, and liver damage
- Excedrin: persistent stomachache, wheezing, rash, vomiting, buzzing or ringing in the ears, black stools, and swollen face, tongue, lips, eyes, or throat
Side effects of over-the-counter painkillers are uncommon since they’re supposed to be used only for a short time in treating headaches. However, if you already have an existing medical problem, like kidney damage, you might encounter more problems by taking these drugs.
Reminders and Tips for Taking Painkillers Safely:
- Be careful in choosing painkillers. WebMD.com suggests avoiding those that contain caffeine.  Caffeine makes these drugs more effective by as much as 40% and reduces inflammation, which stops pain in its tracks. However, when you take painkillers containing caffeine too often or too much, the head pain comes back worse once the effect wears off. If possible, don’t take them more than thrice per week. 
- Don’t self-medicate. Work closely with your doctor to find the right combination of pain medicines at the right doses. Taking two or more pills at the same time won’t make your headache go away faster, but it may make side effects develop faster. Make sure to take painkillers according to your doctor’s recommendation.
- Let your doctor know of all the medications that you’re already taking to avoid overdosing and serious drug-to-drug interactions. The more medications you’re using for your headache, the more your doctor should monitor you.
- Know what types of foods, drinks, and dietary supplements you should stay away from because they might prevent the proper absorption or react with the medications you’re taking, such as painkillers. For instance, eating too much broccoli or cabbage could stop your body from absorbing acetaminophen. Naproxen and acetaminophen are compatible, so you can take them together at the same time.
Take Enough Fluids Every Day
It’s normal for the human body to use and lose water through sweat, urine, and by simply breathing. But losing too much of it could lead to dehydration. Two early signs for dehydration are thirst and a dark-colored urine. Other symptoms include headaches, dry mouth, constipation, sleepiness, dry skin, dizziness, and low urine output.
How does dehydration cause headaches?
When you’re dehydrated, the body’s blood volume drops both during exercise and at rest. The blood vessels fail to stretch, which sends a message to your brain to increase the beating of your heart to compensate for the reduced blood volume. But even when the heart is beating fast, there’s still not enough oxygen-rich blood circulating, particularly to the brain, which could lead to pain. 
The best way to beat dehydration is to prevent it in the first place. Here are different ways to avoid dehydration:
Regularly drink water, whether you’re thirsty or not.
There are different recommendations on the exact amount of water people should drink every day. According to The Institute of Medicine, women should aim for 2.2 liters of fluids every day, while men should aim for 3 liters. You should drink more water during hot weather or if you engage in activities that would cause you to sweat a lot.
In one study, participants who drank 200 to 1,500ml of water got rid of their dehydration-induced headache within 30 minutes. Those who drank 500 to 1,000ml of water experienced relief within 1 to 3 hours. 
Aside from water, you can also eat water-rich fruits and vegetables. Try watermelon, orange, melon, grapefruit, celery, Romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and green pepper.
Sodas, teas, juices, sports drinks, and coffee are also excellent sources of fluids. Just don’t drink too much. If your drink contains too much sugar, which is a headache trigger, you can add more water to dilute it.
Reduce or avoid eating high-protein meals
Research suggests that hydration levels significantly drops as athletes, or even ordinary folks, increase their protein intake.  It’s important to drink lots of water when you’re eating high-protein foods.
Listen to your body
Rest and hydrate if you’re outdoors, doing vigorous physical activities, or sweating a lot. Don’t wait for dehydration to set in before you replace lost fluids.
Wear light clothes during hot weather and in summer
Wear clothes made from light and natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, and linen. Wearing something white is actually not a good idea. If you want to keep cool in the heat, wear something black. This color absorbs all colors of light from the sun. It transforms the absorbed light into energy, generally heat, and then release some of it into the the skin and environment.
Find time to relax your mind and body
All of us experience stress on a daily basis. It’s normal and unavoidable.
However, experiencing too much stress frequently is bad for your mental and physical health. If you don’t manage it, it could cause serious diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, depression, asthma, and diabetes, among others. It can also trigger or worsen other headache types, such as tension-type headaches.
Fortunately, there are many ways to manage overwhelming stress to keep headaches at bay. Here are a few examples of effective and simple relaxation techniques for headache relief:
Controlled Breathing Exercises
Controlled breathing exercises are one of the easiest ways to relax your mind and body, which in turn could prevent a headache from forming. A new research suggests that slow and controlled breathing could markedly reduce pain. Participants of the study, who were experiencing chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, reported reduced feelings of pain while breathing slowly. But, this only happens when they’re not overwhelmed by negative emotions, such as sadness. 
There are plenty of ways to de-stress, whether you’re at work, in school, or anywhere you need to keep calm or relax to prevent a headache attack. Here are two examples.
- Natural Breathing Exercise
- To start, sit up straight to allow your lungs to fully expand.
- Close your mouth. Then, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your lower lungs with a normal amount of air. Inhaling through your mouth will send dry, cold, and unfiltered air to your lungs.
- Hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then exhale slowly through pursed lips.
- Repeat this breathing exercise several times a day.
- Belly Breathing Exercise
- You can sit on your chair if you want. Or, you could find a place in your workplace or school where you can lie down comfortably.
- Put one of your hands on your upper chest. The other one below your rib
- Next, breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose. When you do this, your hand on the upper chest should remain still, while the other one should rise with your stomach.
- Breathe out slowly through pursed lips. Even at this point, your hand on the upper chest should still not move.
Mindful meditation is when you pay attention to your thoughts and emotions without analyzing or judging them as good or bad. This type of meditation is great for people who live a hectic lifestyle because it’s easy to do and won’t consume time.
You can do this during your breaks, before you go to work or school, or whenever you feel tired and stressed out. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit up straight, and then close your eyes. You can keep your eyes open if you want.
- Don’t try to control the pace or strength of your breathing. Just breathe normally.
- Focus on the sensations in your body and the rising and falling of your chest with each breath.
- Acknowledge your thoughts, but don’t spend too much time on them. If you find your mind drifting, refocus by paying attention to your breathing.
- Keep doing this for at least 2 minutes. You can increase the number of minutes to suit your needs.
These are some of the things you could do to prevent or relieve headaches. Normally, you don’t need to receive intensive medical attention for headaches, unless your they’re due to an underlying health condition. Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking any medications, or if the following are present:
- Your headaches become more severe or won’t go away, even after taking painkiller or using medical and alternative treatments
- Taking more than two to three doses of painkillers weekly or when you take them every day or almost every day
- You have headaches three or more times each week
- Strenuous physical activities, coughing, and/or bending down triggers your headaches.
- When you experience changes in your headache symptoms
What are your thoughts? What do you usually do to prevent or cure your headaches when you’re at work or in school? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so don’t forget to leave your comments below.