12 Tips And Tricks That Headache Sufferers Swear By

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Brb, stocking up on lavender oil, ice packs, and ginger.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about how they handle headaches. Here are the relieving results.

Note: I, like most of the readers contributing, am not a doctor. Lots of headaches will also benefit from taking medicine, but it’s not my place to recommend the right meds for you and your bod. So, don’t take these helpful suggestions as medical gospel — but rather anecdotal potential antidotes. 🙂 When in doubt, talk to a doctor to figure out what’s best for you!

1.

Don’t underestimate the importance of basic self-care and a healthy lifestyle. Regular meals, staying hydrated, and getting more exercise can help your whole body feel better, not just your head.


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“I eat a snack and have a drink of water. If that doesn’t help, I place an ice pack on the back of my head and take a nap.”—kittyjr5

“I had chronic migraines every day for about two years. I tried every painkiller and even consulted with a neurologist. None of it worked. It wasn’t until I changed my lifestyle (exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking more water) that I stopped getting those pesky migraines.” —desireehannahw2

“Keeping hydrated helps, as does eating well and getting regular exercise.”—travilkedung

Part of the reason getting more exercise can be so helpful is because it helps relieve stress and causes the release of endorphins, according to the American Migraine Foundation. And if you’re like me, you know that hunger headaches can be some of the worst. I make sure to keep plenty of snacks at my desk and in my purse!

If remembering to drink water is your #1 self-care struggle, a bottle marked with the time of day and how much H2O you should have consumed by then can be motivational. Get one from Uncommon Goods for $19.99.

2.

One of the many possible causes of headaches can actually be issues with your teeth (who knew, right?). Unconscious habits like clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth can cause headaches, so check with a dentist or doctor if that’s possibly what’s causing yours. You can also try wearing a night guard to see if it helps!


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“So, I was getting headaches that pierced down into my soul and randomly discovered why at an unrelated dentist appointment. The dentist revealed to me that it was due to jaw-clenching at night (guess my dreams are way more intense than I remember in the mornings???). She recommended that I get a dental guard to prevent the clenching and I did it immediately. I got this customizable one that I had to boil in water (super quickly), bite down into to mold it to my teeth, and then let it sit for a few minutes. After doing that, I used it the same night and I totally noticed a difference in how often I was getting headaches. In fact, they mostly stopped. I recommend you get two — one for travel and one for at home, so you don’t leave yours in Puerto Rico and have to buy a brand new one like I did.” —Marquaysa Battle, BuzzFeed Shopping writer

Get the night guard Marquaysa recommends from Amazon for $19.99. Read more about teeth grinding from Mayo Clinic and about jaw tension and headaches from Cleveland Clinic.

3.

Rub a soothing remedy onto your forehead, temples, and the back of your neck. Essential oils or topical products made for pain relief can feel super calming and cooling (just be careful not to apply so much to your forehead that it gets in your eyes).


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“I’m always getting the worst migraines. What I do is get some Vicks VapoRub ($13, Amazon) — a miracle in my family — and massage it onto my temples, THEN I sink into my bed and pass the heck out.” —Lesley M.

“Rubbing lavender oil ($7.99, Amazon) clockwise on my temples always helps. You can also rub a bit in your belly button when nauseous to ease symptoms.” —C

“Just plain ol’ peppermint essential oil ($6.99, Amazon)! I dab some on each temple and the base of my neck and it works like a charm every damn time.” —jessal2

“Okay, I get the worst headaches ever so just hear me out. Bio Freeze ($12.95, Amazon) or Icy Hot ($4.96, Amazon). When I have one of those headaches where I feel like a hammer is pounding against my skull from the inside my head, I rub a bit of Bio Freeze on my temples and Y’ALL — when I say that I literally FEEL the headache leave my soul I am not exaggerating. It’s a weird remedy, but it’s totally worth it and it has yet to disappoint me.” —husseinsamhat44

“For run-of-the-mill headaches, I adore Peace of Mind by Origins ($15, Sephora). I get pretty bad headaches that last for days when the weather bobs from winter to spring and this has SAVED me from an Advil dependency.” —k_elizabeth

Personally, my go-to is a roll-on essential oil stick with lavender, peppermint, and spearmint oil that you can get on Amazon for $10.99 (that’s what I’m applying in the pics above). It’s helped me have to rely on taking ibuprofen less often and is super soothing. Check out my full review here.

4.

Ginger can be a great natural remedy to try, and it’s available in all sorts of forms, from supplements to tea to the fresh variety. Plus, it can help reduce nausea if that’s a sucky symptom you also experience with migraines.


Martin Harvey / Getty Images

“I deal with occasional headaches and when they’re bad they’re debilitating. A natural remedy I came across is to eat fresh pieces of ginger root (a small sliver or two will do). Headache was gone in a few minutes.” —xthemaestro

Read about more forms of ginger that can be used as headache remedies and how to use each one from Healthline.

5.

Clear out your sinuses to relieve pressure and allow you to ACTUALLY breathe a sigh of relief.


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“Most of my headaches are due to sinuses. I take Advil and do a sinus rinse. Relief in minutes.” —rachelsporyh

You can use saline to flush out your sinuses with a special squeeze bottle or neti pot-type device, or buy an aerosol spritz. The most important thing is to make sure the device you’re using is clean and that the water is sterile. You can get full instructions and safety tips for sinus rinses from Healthline, and read about one BuzzFeeder’s experience using a neti pot here.

Get a neti pot plus 30 pre-mixed saline packets from Amazon for $9.92, or get a two-pack of Simply Saline spray from Amazon for $16.26.

6.

Try a cold compress/ice pack to freeze (literally) your headache in its tracks.


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“I wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and then rub it over my temples, jaw, eyelids, anywhere that feels tense around my head. The headache doesn’t always go away, but it feels a lot better afterward.” —avaiatorz

“Falling asleep with an ice pack strapped to my head. I think it’s mostly that it distracts from the pain enough that I can get to sleep. I’ve had chronic headaches since I was 14 and randomly buying an ice pack to try one day was a game- changer.” —ashleylynneh2

“A cooling eye mask provides temporary relief for tension/sinus headaches.”—342daydream

According to the National Headache Foundation, whether you prefer hot or cold packs when you have a headache depends on what kind of headache you have (cold tends to be more popular for migraines) as well as just personal preference. They recommend applying cold compresses for 15 minutes at a time.

My go-to for cold therapy? A beanbag eye mask that I keep in my freezer and pull out when my head and eyes ache. You can get it on Amazon for $13.54.

7.

Or, if heat sounds like it would feel good, take a bath or shower to help you relax.


Ghislain & Marie David De Lossy / Getty Images

—sabunnie

According to Mayo Clinic, the hot water can help your muscles relax not unlike a hot pack would. Steamy showers can also help relieve congestion, and we all know that luxuriating in the tub can be a great stress reliever!

8.

Pick up a pair of special computer eyeglasses to prevent headaches caused by staring at a computer screen all dang day like it’s your job (oh, wait, it probably is).


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“I’ve had chronic headaches since childhood, but recently they got much worse. I was complaining to my husband about them and he ordered me some blue-light blocking glasses from Amazon. I’m not exaggerating when I say it reduced the intensity of my headaches by 90%, especially on work days when I look at a computer screen all day.” —byrdknb

You can find several different glare-reducing styles on Amazon, but you can get two pairs of the top-rated (over 1,000 5-star reviews!!) specs in the pics above for $18.98 (available in seven color combinations).

Some other ways to help reduce eye strain when staring at screens all day include blinking a lot, taking breaks, and keeping your screen clean, according to Time.

9.

Although avoiding delicious things like cheese and bacon sounds impossible, pay attention to what foods in your diet might be contributing to your headaches and/or migraines.


Joff Lee / Getty Images

“After suffering for over eight years with seriously debilitating migraines and pressure, my neurologist recommended I try cutting out dairy, which can be a trigger, and it’s really been a lifesaver. I love dairy, so that’s been an adjustment, but I always recommend trying to cut it out and seeing if that will work.” —xiodiaz17

“I have to avoid sugar.” —smellysword15

Potentially triggering foods can include caffeine, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and cured meat, according to Healthline. To figure out which foods are to blame, you can try keeping a record of what you eat and when you have headaches, or eliminating potentially triggering foods from your diet and gradually reintroducing them to see which ones have an effect. Learn more from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter.

10.

As you may or may not have learned in school, your head is connected to things like your neck, shoulders, and back. Tension in these areas can contribute to headaches, so reducing the strain on them (including through posture changes and sitting ergonomically at your desk) can help.


Yellow Dog Productions / Getty Images, Amazon

“If I see my chiropractor regularly, headaches are rare. If I don’t, they’re frequent. And bad.” —travilkedung

“When I go to the chiropractor regularly, I notice I get less headaches. When I’m in the middle of a throbbing headache, the two best things for me are Excedrin Migraine and/or having someone massage my neck. I work with a massage therapist and she has taught me how to help relax certain neck muscles at the base of your head with massage techniques. I’ve learned to just start doing it for myself in the middle of an attack and it almost always helps.” —mandeer3

“There are many causes of my migraines, sadly. I try to limit stress, and I go to an upper cervical specialist (chiropractor) because my axis is not at the right degree. Get yourself a supportive pillow. No more crossing your legs or lying on your stomach.” —woonderwooman

If your daily life involves sitting in the same position for long periods of time, the American Chiropractic Association recommends taking breaks every half hour or so to get up and stretch. You can also rearrange your desk more ergonomically and do some helpful stretches even when you’re sitting — learn how to both from this video from the Wall Street Journal.

I personally went to physical therapy for a while to help work out my VERY tight neck and shoulder muscles, and I think it helped (though I have several different headache triggers). I’ve been working on little adjustments, like holding my phone directly in front of me so I’m not bending my neck in my chair to look at it. Recently, I’ve also been trying the posture corrector harness above (from Amazon, $19.99), and I can definitely feel a difference after I use it!

11.

~Relieve some tension~ with a good old-fashioned orgasm.


Momo Productions / Getty Images

“While you may not be in the mood to have sex when you have a headache, I often find masturbation helps at least temporarily. When I have the kinds of headaches that just feel like a ball of tension in the side of my head, an orgasm can be a great release and make me a little less miserable.” —K

According to WebMD, one of the reasons that this might work for some folks is because the release of endorphins can reduce pain.

12.

Finally, if your headaches are frequent and really screwing up your quality of life — or even if you just want help figuring out the best treatment plan for you — go see a doctor!


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“I suffer from chronic migraines, and after going to the doctor I actually found out that my birth control was making the problem worse!! Not only that, but the type of migraines I get combined with the birth control I was on at the time was a STROKE RISK. Uhmm what?! Go see a doctor. I switched birth control and got put on a triptan and my migraines are so much more manageable.” —Maureen E.

“I went to the doctor for preventative medicine. Chronic headaches and migraines especially ones that leave you out of commission, can be prevented. GO SEE THE DOCTOR.” —rosegoldrosay

That feeling when you finally get headache relief:


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Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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