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Don’t let a headache stop you in your tracks. Here’s how to ease the discomfort.

When you have headache pain, it can throw your whole day off. The aching and throbbing may simply be a minor annoyance or it can stop you from following through with your normal routine. Whether you get mild or severe headaches, and whether they happen on occasion or relatively often, knowing how to ease your symptoms can help you feel better and get on with your life.

Here are 10 tips to get quick relief from headache pain:
  1. Drink water. Many people find they get headaches when they are dehydrated. One of the easiest and fastest ways to remedy or avoid a headache caused by dehydration is to drink more water.
  2. Have a little caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to help ease migraine pain in its early stages. Some over-the-counter migraine medications contain caffeine or you can have a cup of coffee or tea. Just don’t overdo it.
  3. Massage painful areas. If you have a tension headache, massaging the area may help ease tension and pain. Gently apply rotating pressure to your neck, temples and forehead.
  4. Do relaxation exercises. Anything that relaxes you may help ease headache pain. Try progressive muscle relaxation exercises, stretching, yoga or meditation.
  5. Use a cold compress. Putting something cold on your forehead may help dull your pain, especially if you have a migraine. Use an ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables or a few ice cubes in a plastic bag. Place a light towel between the ice and your skin so it’s not too cold. A cool shower may also ease discomfort.
  6. Use a warm compress. If your headache is due to tension or congested sinuses, a warm compress may help. Place a warm damp washcloth over sinuses or a heating pad on your neck. Warm moist heat helps relax tense muscles and clear sinuses. A warm shower may also help.
  7. Turn off the lights. Migraines are often exacerbated by bright light. Stay in a room with the lights off or turned down low. Cover windows with blackout curtains or shades. Avoid blue-light from your computer or phone. Wear sunglasses outdoors.
  8. Remove anything constricting on your head. If you are wearing a hat or headband, removing it may ease pressure. The same goes for a ponytail.
  9. Don’t chew on hard objects. If your head is pounding, limit chewing on anything hard, crunchy or sticky. This includes not only hard foods, but ice, fingernails, pens and gum.
  10. Wear a mouth guard. If you wake up in the morning with a headache, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard. It may not only ease headaches, but protect your teeth.

If you have a headache that is severe, comes on suddenly and is accompanied by dizziness, confusion, trouble speaking or other neurological symptoms, get emergency medical treatment right away because it may be a sign of a stroke. If you have pain or other symptoms following a blow to the head, also seek medical care so you can be checked for a head injury or concussion.

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Date Last Reviewed: April 20, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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