8 Ways to Immediately Get Rid of Headaches

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Have you ever found yourself navigating through the week—tackling work presentations like a pro (because, well, it’s your job), sweating out stress at the gym, and nurturing your friendships—only to have your entire world come to a screeching halt due to the pulsating pain of a headache? Chances are, the answer is yes. In the United States alone, 96% of individuals will encounter a headache at some point in their lives. And if you happen to identify with the female gender, you’re even more susceptible to experiencing this head pain.

According to the World Health Organization, most individuals can anticipate grappling with at least one headache per year. However, headaches come in various forms and intensities. They can throb, stab, or squeeze; they can be constant or intermittent, ranging from barely noticeable to excruciating. While an average tension headache typically dissipates within four to six hours, migraine attacks—which extend beyond mere headaches—can persist for up to 72 hours.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of headaches and explore why they occur and where the pain originates.

Headaches are a common ailment ranging from mildly bothersome to severely debilitating. Understanding their underlying causes is essential for effective management. Here are some key insights:


Primary Headaches:

These headaches arise independently and are not associated with any other medical condition. They result from changes in blood vessels, nerves, or brain chemicals.

  • Migraines: Often characterized by intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, migraines are linked to abnormal brain activity and blood vessel changes.
  • Tension Headaches: These typically feel like a tight band around the head and are often triggered by stress or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
  • Cluster Headaches: Intensely painful and localized, cluster headaches occur in clusters over weeks or months.

Secondary Headaches

These headaches are symptoms of an underlying condition. They can be caused by:

  • Infections
  • Head Injuries
  • Sinus Issues
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Medication Overuse
  • Structural Abnormalities
  • Hormonal Changes (e.g., Menstrual Cycles, Menopause)
  • Environmental Factors (e.g., Bright Light, Smoke, Cold Weather)

The Pain Pathway

  • Nociceptors, pain-sensitive nerve endings, react to headache triggers (such as stress, certain foods, or odors).
  • These nociceptors send messages through the trigeminal nerve to the thalamus, the brain’s “relay station” for pain sensations from all over the body.

Headaches can stem from various factors, including physical, emotional, environmental, and hormonal influences.

References: Identifying triggers and seeking appropriate treatment can significantly improve the quality of life for headache sufferers.

Let’s explore secondary headaches, which are headaches caused by an underlying medical condition. Unlike primary headaches, where the headache itself is the primary issue, secondary headaches are symptoms of an existing health problem. Here are some symptoms and examples of secondary headaches:

Post-Traumatic Headache:


  • Dull ache that worsens intermittently.
  • Vertigo (a sensation of spinning or dizziness).
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Trouble Concentrating.
  • Memory Problems.
  • Easily tiring.
  • Irritability.

Cause: These headaches typically emerge 2-3 days after a head injury.

Action: If post-traumatic headaches persist beyond a couple of weeks, seek medical attention.

Rebound Headache:


  • Severe head pain.

Caused by Overuse of Pain Medication: Rebound headaches occur when pain medications (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) are used excessively to treat headaches.

Action: If you notice a headache after prolonged use of pain drugs, consult your doctor.

  • Headaches Associated with Specific Conditions
  • High Blood Pressure
    • Symptoms: New or different headaches in someone over 50 years old.
  • Infections (e.g., Sinus Infection):
    • Symptoms: Abrupt headache with no warning.
  • Brain Injury or Concussion:
    • Symptoms: Headaches after head trauma.
  • Blood Vessel Problems (e.g., Brain Bleed):
    • Symptoms: Headaches with abnormal physical exam findings.
  • Medication Side Effects:
    • Symptoms: Severe head pain, and vision changes (blurred vision, double vision, decreased vision).

Other Triggers:

  • Pregnancy:
    • Symptoms: Headaches during pregnancy.
  • Seizures or Fainting:
    • Symptoms: Headaches following a seizure or fainting episode.
  • Strenuous Physical Activity:
    • Symptoms: Headaches triggered by exercise.

The 9 ways to get rid of Headache

Stress and Tension

Anything (or anyone) that boosts your stress level can make you more vulnerable to tension headaches or migraines. The exact mechanism isn’t fully understood, but certain nerves in the brain that relay pain messages may be extra sensitive during stressful times.

Tip: Practice stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

Weather Changes

Temperature fluctuations can trigger headaches. Sudden changes can lead to head pain, whether it’s a heat wave or a cold snap.

Tip: On sunny days, wear sunglasses, stay hydrated, and avoid excessive sun exposure.

Strong Scents

Strong scents can indeed trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals. Let’s explore why this happens and discuss tips to reduce the impact of fragrances:

  1. How Scents Trigger Headaches:
    • Our sense of smell (olfaction) has a direct link to our emotional system and brain.
    • Fragrance compounds in perfumes and other strong odors can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with receptors in the central nervous system.
    • Hyperosmia, a heightened sense of smell, may occur due to various reasons, including pregnancy.
    • Fragrance sensitivity affects about 1-4% of the general population and can lead to various health effects, including migraines, asthma attacks, and neurological problems.
  2. Common Fragrance Compounds:
    • Perfumes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as limonene, beta-pinene, and ethanol.
    • These VOCs are known to trigger headaches.
    • Synthetic vanillin, used to mimic the natural vanilla scent, can worsen symptoms and increase pain.
  3. Moderation:
    • Wear less perfume to avoid intensity-driven headaches.
    • Some perfumes have stronger scents than others, so be mindful when switching bottles.
    • Consider diluting your perfume with water in a mini bottle.
  4. Elimination:
    • Going perfume-free is an effective solution if you consistently experience headaches.
  5. Fresh Air:
    • If exposed to strong scents, step away from the source.
    • Take a shower if you’ve used perfume.
    • Headache medication can provide relief.
    • Get outdoors if the perfume intensity is causing your headache.

Even pleasant smells can trigger migraines in many people. Common offenders include paint, perfume, and certain flowers.

Tip: Be mindful of strong scents and try to minimize exposure.

Hair Accessories

Wearing hair accessories too tightly (like a ponytail, headband, or tight-fitting hat) can strain the scalp’s connective tissue, leading to hairdo headaches.

  1. Tension Reduction:
    • Tight hairstyles (such as ponytails, buns, or braids) can exert pressure on the scalp and the sensitive nerves beneath the hair follicles.
    • This pressure leads to pain and tension headaches.
    • Hair accessories, when chosen wisely, can distribute the weight of your hair more evenly and reduce strain on the scalp.
  2. Flexi clips are simple yet effective hair accessories designed to avoid headaches.
    • Unlike traditional hair ties that pull from the scalp, Flexi clips hold the tension within your hair itself.
    • Place the Flexi clip in your hair to secure it without causing discomfort.
    • These clips allow you to create various hairstyles without straining your scalp.
    • They work well for both casual and elegant looks.
  3. Looser Hairstyles
    • If you don’t have a Flexi clip, ensure that your hair is not too tight
    • You should be able to fit two fingers between your scalp and the band of your ponytail or bun.
    • Opt for soft hair ties or fabric scrunchies instead of hard hair ties.
    • These gentler options put less pressure on your scalp.
  4. Variety and Rest:
    • Avoid wearing your hair up in a ponytail or bun every day.
    • Give your hair a break a few days a week to prevent damage to the hair follicles.
    • Rotate hairstyles to avoid constant strain on specific areas of the scalp.
  5. Personal Experience with Flexi Clips
    • Some individuals find that Flexi clips are a fool-proof solution for preventing headaches.
    • These clips distribute hair weight evenly and minimize discomfort.
    • Personal anecdotes highlight their effectiveness in reducing hairdo headaches.

Tip: If your hairdo is causing discomfort, let your hair down for quick relief.

Exercise-Induced Headaches:

Strenuous physical activity can sometimes lead to headaches, especially in individuals prone to migraines.

Tip: If you experience a sudden, severe headache after physical exertion, seek medical attention if accompanied by vomiting, double vision, or neck stiffness.

Poor Posture:

Poor posture can indeed contribute to headaches, especially tension headaches and migraines. Let’s explore how and what you can do to alleviate this:

  1. Neck Dysfunction and Migraines:
    • Research indicates that individuals with migraines often exhibit more neck dysfunction than the general population.
    • Poor posture, especially when sitting for extended periods, can strain the neck and contribute to headache frequency.
  2. Seated Posture Tips
    • Sit Upright: Maintain a neutral position with your head and neck. Avoid slouching.
    • Foot Placement: Keep your feet flat on the floor (or supported by a footrest). Avoid sitting on your feet or crossing your legs.
    • Arm Position: Keep your arms and elbows close to your body. Use an armrest for support and maintain neutral wrist positions.
    • Lower Back Support: Sit with your hips fully back in the chair and ensure proper back support. Consider using a small rolled towel behind your lower back to reduce space between the chair and your back.
  3. Recovery Pose
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
    • Gently clasp your hands behind your head and neck.
    • Allow your elbows to relax toward the floor.
    • Focus on breathing and relax.
    • Hold for 1-2 minutes (as long as comfortable).
    • Repeat as needed.
  4. Dedicated Work Space
    • Create a personalized workstation.
    • Use a table or desk and a chair.
    • Position your laptop or monitor at or slightly below eye level.
    • Bring books or smaller devices to eye level.
    • Keep frequently used items within easy reach.

Improving posture can positively impact headaches and reduce neck pain.

Dietary Triggers

Certain foods can contribute to headaches:

  • Aged Cheese: Contains tyramine, a potential migraine trigger.
  • Red Wine: Also contains tyramine and other headache-inducing compounds.
  • Cold Cuts and Processed Meats: Often contain tyramine and nitrites.
  • Skipped Meals: Hunger headaches can occur before you realize you’re hungry due to a dip in blood sugar.

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