“Headaches are often a sign that your body needs a break,” says Elizabeth Loder, MD, Chief of the Headache and Pain Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and President of the American Headache Society.
“Many people are very busy and are reluctant to take the time, but if you consider the tradeoff of spending 10 minutes to close the blinds, lie down, and relax when you feel a headache forming, that might be better use of your time than being incapacitated later on after it gets worse,” she says.
Mark W. Green, MD, director of The Center for Headache and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City agrees. He recommends lying down in a dark, well-ventilated room. If you can, he adds, try to sleep for an hour or so. “Rather than fighting sleep, and making things worse, this can be a great treatment.”
Some other suggestions include:
* Eat small, frequent meals. In general, Dr. Green advises his headache patients to graze on small meals throughout the day, rather than eating 3 large meals. “This way your blood sugar stays more consistent and you won’t experience those types of crashes.” Some research suggests that foods rich in magnesium, like spinach, tofu, olive oil, or sunflower or pumpkin seeds may be especially helpful.
* Ice to the head. Dr Loder says, “You can make little ice popsicles in the freezer and rub the forehead or temples up to 10 minutes. A chilly wet washcloth can also provide temporary relief. “If your brain is paying attention to the cold stimulus, it’s not paying attention to the pain,” says Dr. Loder.
* Take a hot shower. Many people wake up with head pain, and often try to stay in bed and pretend it’s not real, or hope it goes away. Dr. Green suggests getting up, and having a cup of coffee (If you’re a regular coffee drinker), having something to eat, and taking a hot shower.
* Get a Massage. In a New Zealand study, migraine sufferers had less frequent pain and slept better during weeks they received massages than those who didn’t. Some people though have said a massage to the head may not help the pain, and can make things worse.
* Try accupressure. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, applying pressure to a point on the hand between the thumb and index finger can help relieve headache pain. Try squeezing the indentation between the 2 digits with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand and massage in a circular motion for 5 minutes, than switch hands. Consider trying acupuncture. The technique uses long needles inserted into the skin to stimulate trigger points throughout the body. health.com 3/13/14