How to manage headaches

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Headaches are a pain in the — head! I admit it is a bad joke. I have been living with headaches since my teenage years and have often referred to myself as the Queen of headaches. I have come to the conclusion that there is no sure way to cure a headache. All I can do is manage a headache. What do I mean by managing a headaches. You can manage headaches by avoiding the triggers or causes, living a healthier lifestyle and knowing when to stop and give yourself some time to just relax.

The first step is to identify the causes or triggers of the headache. I have found that everyone has different triggers. My most common triggers are raw onions, red wine, aged cheeses, and skipping meals. Other common triggers are stress, MSG (the stuff in Chinese food), cured meats (like salami), barometric pressure changes, lack of caffeine, sleeping too little or too much, and muscle tension. I am sure there are other triggers that you can think of that are not on my list. Pay attention to your body. How were you feeling right before the headache began? What did you eat? How was the weather? What were you doing? Keep a journal and identify patterns. Once you have identified your triggers, do your best to avoid them. It’s not easy. What I do is to think about the massive headache I will get if I eat/drink the wrong thing.

Exercise should be a part of your daily routine. It can be in any form. Go for a daily run, bike ride, or take classes at the gym. I have found that as long as I make my body sweat, I feel better and do not get as many headaches. Yoga and pilates are other great forms of exercise that help to reduce the frequency of my headaches. Next time you are just sitting around the house and you feel a headache coming on, go for a walk or do a yoga DVD. Of course it you already have a full-blown headache, I would probably just shut myself in a dark room and just take it easy.

Massage is what I turn to when I have exhausted my arsenal weapons to battle a headache. It can take many forms. It can be just asking a loved one to give me a neck and head message. It can be getting a massage from a professional masseuse. It can be sitting in the massage chair at the local mall. Most of the time, I give myself neck and head messages. Don’t forget the scalp. A good scalp massage is invigorating.

Tiger balm, what can I say about Tiger Balm? I never leave home without it. It is typically used to treat sore muscles. I use it to treat headaches. If you have never tried it for headaches you are in for a surprise. Rub your temples with Tiger Balm (don’t get near the eyes). Massage your neck and scalp with Tiger Balm. I even dab Tiger Balm below my nostrils so I can breath in the mentholated goodness.

Drink plenty of water, not juice or soda. Avoid drinks with artificial sweeteners. They are often a trigger for headaches. I have found that one of the symptoms of dehydration is a headache. I always carry a bottle of water with me.

Aromatherapy has always been helpful in my battle against the evil headache. Of course lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint essential oils are the most common. In the end, I suggest you experiment with essential oils that you find soothing. My favorite combination is peppermint and lavender essential oils. I found a product called a Migrastick. It is a mini essential oils roll on. I always keep one in my purse.

Sometimes you just need to take a couple of pills. Everyone has a preferred headache medicine. I always carry Excedrin Migraine and Advil. Of course, I am not a doctor and I will leave the prescriptions to the doctors. I prefer to do try an over the counter pill before I use the harsh medicines prescribed by doctors.

I wish you much luck with your battle with headaches. Get to know your body, your triggers and what medicine works best for you. You will see that your headache frequency will decrease and you will be able to enjoy your life just a little bit more.

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