Headaches are the worst: One minute, you’re doing your thing like a girl boss, and the next it’s like your head is trying to escape from your body. Since different types of headaches are caused by different factors, recognizing the symptoms can go a long way in treating that pounding noggin of yours. Like, right now.
Here are 5 types of headaches and how to send them packing:
1. Tension headaches
Tension headaches are super common (you know, unfortunately). It can feel like there’s a tight band around your head, a throbbing sensation behind your eyes, or tension at the base of your skull. They’re usually caused by muscle tension from your upper back, neck, and head. Luckily, they tend not to last long, but they can really put a damper on your day. One of the most common reasons tension headaches strike is because of our tech-fueled lifestyle: Sitting with poor posture at your desk, looking down at your smartphone, slouching during your latest binge-watching sesh. Things like squinting, bright sunlight, and fatigue can also be a contributing factor.
The best way to put the kibosh on tension headaches? Track when they happen and what you’re doing when they strike, and see if there are any patterns. Once you’re able to identify the triggers, you’ll know what to steer clear from to prevent them from coming back.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what’s the most life-ruining headache of them all? That would be migraines, which usually consist of severe pain and throbbing on one side of the head. The pain can be so severe that it can cause nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light and sound. A common migraine trigger is changes to your routine, such as a spike in stress, a crappy night’s sleep, or slacking on the whole healthy eating thing.
Like tension headaches, keeping a record of when migraines happen can help you identify triggers that can be avoided or managed. Migraine-specific over-the-counter pain relievers can help dull the pain, and you may want to try breathing in lavender oil: One study found that people struggling with migraines saw a significant reduction in pain after inhaling lavender oil scents for 15 minutes.
3. Sinus headaches
Sinus headaches are a total pain in the… well, face, and can be a not-so-lovely side effect of a cold, flu, or allergies. Along with a drippy nose and congestion can come a perma-throbbing sensation around your nose, eyes, and cheeks that typically gets worse if you move your head suddenly. The trick to relieving a sinus headache is to combat the swelling and inflammation of your sinus membranes. You can either use a nasal irrigation kit to drain your nasal passages, steam from a pot of hot water, or a vaporizer for relief—steamy showers work great too.
4. Rebound headaches
If you tend to run right to the medicine cabinet when a headache strikes, you may ironically cause yourself more headaches. Rebound headaches strike because of chronic use of OTC pain meds, and can cause similar symptoms to tension headaches and migraines. Your best bet is to reduce your pain med intake or stop taking it altogether and make lifestyle changes instead. But take heart: You may end up having to deal with temporary side effects, like nausea or constipation, so make sure you start cutting back on your days off.
5. Dental headaches
If your headaches involve pain behind the eyes, a sore jaw, or your jaw joints click or pop, welcome to the world of dental headaches. These can be the result of strained jaw muscles or issues with your bite, or you might find yourself grinding your teeth a little too much when your stress level’s in overdrive. If stress-related, focus on relaxation techniques to help keep your face and jaw muscles relaxed. If it’s more to do with specific jaw issues, check in with your dentist to have your bite and jaw examined.
What types of headaches strike your noggin the most?
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