There are people who have random headaches, and then there are those who suffer from headaches.
The people in the latter category are familiar with all the horrific symptoms that define a bad headache. And when I say bad, I really mean it. Your head is pumping with pain, you can't stand light or sound and you have to stay in bed.
And this ordeal can last for three days.
Luckily for you, my friend who struggles with headaches, there is a simple, effective recipe you can use to get rid of these pains.
All these steps are backed by science and by old-time sufferers, so here is how to get rid of headaches.
1. Drink twice the water amount you usually do.
I confess I am not a huge water drinker, and I often switch water with soda. But, this small change really opened my eyes.
Before I say anything, most headaches are the result of dehydration, so this first tip might improve your health alone.
As instructed by my friend, when I felt a headache was coming, I started to double my water intake. Of course, I wasn't able to drink plain water, so I started to add lemon or orange juice to it.
In the end, I managed to drink about 3 liters of water a day.
I am not the only one who says dehydration and headaches are related.
Dr. Mark Spigt conducted a study on people who suffer from headaches and found that drinking more water helps ease the headaches.
The researchers said,
We suspect that some headache patients may benefit from drinking more water and it seems reasonable to recommend they try drinking more for a short period of time to see if they experience an improvement.
2. Use essential oils.
The local application of essential oils relieves your headache.
I first used simple, minty cream, which I rubbed on my forehead and my wrists.
Soon after, I decided to make my own remedy. I mixed peppermint, eucalyptus and chamomile essential oils, and then I added olive oil as a carrier and poured the mixture in a roll-on container.
Each time I feel the creeping headache, I roll a little on my forehead, and it instantly provides a relief and refreshes my mind.
If I am not in a rush, I use an oil diffuser, which provides the same relief, but for a longer time.
From a scientific point of view, lavender seems to be the researchers' favorite headache reliever, as shown by various studies.
3. Limit your coffee intake.
The popular remedy for a headache is a cup of strong coffee, but from my experience, this only makes things worse.
I used to drink three cups of coffee a day, each time with added sugar. When I decided to find a way to cure my headaches, I also limited the amount of coffee I drink in a day to one cup.
If I still feel the need for caffeine later in the day, I eat a piece of dark chocolate.
From a scientific point of view, coffee is seen as a double-edged sword: Some studies say it can cure headaches, but others show that coffee might actually cause headaches.
Dr. Kathleen Digre, director of Headache and Neuro-ophthalmology Division, University of Utah in Salt Lake, said,
Caffeine is a two-edged sword. The other side of the coin is if you take a lot of caffeine and then stop it, you can have a withdrawal headache. A lot of people drink coffee during the week, and then don't have it on the weekends, and they get a headache.
Another professional (Laura M. Juliano, director of Behavioral Pharmacology and Health Promotion at American University, Washington, DC) summed it all up by saying,
If someone is headache-prone, they should avoid using caffeine regularly.
4. Limit your sugar intake.
Another big change I made was limiting the amount of sugar I ate.
I was used to drinking coffee with sugar and soda rich in sugar and lots of sweets. When I gave up on most of these sugars, my headaches began to decrease in intensity.
A side effect of this new habit was losing some pounds, which wasn't bad at all.
Dr. Andy Dowson, director of headache services at King's College Hospital, London, went even further by saying,
Sometimes a desire for chocolate or cheese may actually be a craving for sugar — which can be a sign of an impending headache.
He also points out that avoiding certain foods isn't enough to prevent the attacks, as trigger factors can build up over time and work in combination to cause a migraine.
5. Ditch or limit gluten.
Going gluten-free really changed the way I feel, and not only when it comes to headaches.
As I went step by step and increased the amount of water I drank and limited my coffee and sugar intake, my headaches decreased in frequency and intensity.
But when I went gluten-free, they almost disappeared. Getting rid of gluten is not easy, and I can't say I've completely removed it from my diet.
Ditching gluten is a verified cure for headaches for some people, as gluten leads to an inflammatory process in the body, which may lead to headaches in sensitive people.
6. Fix your posture.
I work at an office, so I am used to sitting all day with my neck bent in awkward positions.
Unfortunately, this can lead to headaches, so adjusting your posture can cure your headaches.
When you sit, your spine should be straight and your neck shouldn't bend forward of backward.
Dr. Rene Calliet, MD, said this altered posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal weight to the neck and can pull the entire spine out of alignment.
Think of carrying a 30-pound watermelon around your neck all day. The muscle pain from fatigue would be tremendous!
If this is left uncorrected, chronic neck pain and headaches from pinching off the top three nerves in the neck are likely to appear.
If you can't achieve a correct posture, you can switch your chair with a medicine ball, which will force you to stay straight.
7. Pay more attention to bed time.
How well you sleep also alters your health.
The more sleep you get, the smaller the possibility of having a headache. However, how you sleep matters just as much.
You need to go to bed relaxed, as stress is one of the main causes of severe headaches. There are multiple studies that show lack of sleep alone can trigger a headache or a migraine, so you definitely want to pay attention to this one.
One hour before you go to bed, turn off the noise in the house and dim the lights. You can also use essentials oils such as lavender to help relax and increase the production of sleep hormones.
Taking a hot bath and stretching are other helpful habits. Don't forget to ventilate your bedroom before you go to sleep.