10 Surprising Ways To Relieve A Headache

By MaryAnn DePietro, CRT. May 7th 2016

Headaches affect almost everyone, at least occasionally. For some people, headaches can become so frequent they interfere with their quality of life. There are several causes of headaches including muscle tension, sinus congestion, migraines and stress. Whether you suffer from occasional headaches or are plagued by frequents ones, finding fast relief is important. In addition to medication, there are some surprising ways to relieve a headache including those listed below.


When you think of botox (botulinum toxin), you may think of wrinkle treatment, but, surprisingly, botox was first approved by the FDA to treat eye disorders. A reduction in wrinkles was noted after injections, which led to botox being used for cosmetic purposes; however, it is still used to treat certain types of headaches. According to the New York Headache Center, botox may help relieve daily tension headaches and migraines. One treatment usually lasts about three months.

Relaxation Training

There are various relaxation techniques that may help ease stress and muscle tension and relieve a headache. Techniques, such as guided imagery, deep breathing and mediation, all work by promoting relaxation and releasing hormones in the body which help reduce pain. Keep in mind, relaxation training may take a while to learn, but daily practice can speed the process.

Massage Therapy

Getting regular massages is one indulgence that may actually have multiple health benefits. Similar to other relaxation techniques, massage therapy can ease stress and relieve a headache. Massage can decrease muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, which can reduce headaches. In addition, facial massage may promote mucus drainage from the sinuses and reduce headache pain from sinus pressure.


Sometimes all you need to get rid of a headache is a nap or a good night’s sleep. Problems with sleep can cause headaches in a few different ways. Sleep deprivation can trigger tension headaches or migraines. Sleep apnea can lead to morning headaches due to decreased oxygen levels in the blood. Although everyone has an occasional sleepless night, if you have chronic problems or you have a sleep disorder, speak to your doctor about possible treatments.

Hot Or Cold Packs

Applying heat or cold to the forehead, temples or back of the neck can be a natural way to treat a headache. Whether you use heat or cold, may depend on the type of headache you have. For instance, applying a heated towel to your forehead or over your eyes may help reduce sinus headaches. Migraines may respond better if you use a cold pack on the forehead. The cold may dilate blood vessels, which can reduce migraine pain. Avoid putting ice directly on the head, which can be painful and may make a headache worse.

Dietary Changes

Making dietary changes can help reduce the frequency of headaches. Certain foods or food addictive, such as nitrates, alcohol and artificial sweeteners, can trigger headaches. Foods which may trigger headaches in some people include chocolate, diet soda, processed meats, and cheese. Consider keeping a food diary in order to determine what types of foods may be causing your headaches.

Stretch The Neck And Head

Tension in the head and neck can often lead to a headache. Tension in the neck can develop from emotional stress or physical stress from being in a fixed position, such as in front of the computer too long. Stretching the head and neck for a few minutes can relax the muscles and reduce a headache.

Drink Water

One of the symptoms of dehydration is a headache. Drinking too much alcohol or exercising in the heat and not drinking enough fluids are common causes of headaches from dehydration. If you suspect you may be dehydrated, drink plenty of water. Other fluids, such as soda, alcohol and juices, are not as beneficial as drinking plain water.

Apply Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has many uses, including headache relief. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, applying a few drops of peppermint oil to the forehead may relieve your headache. Although not all studies prove peppermint oil reduces a headache, there aren’t any noted side effects, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.


Biofeedback is a type of alternative therapy used to treat various types of pain, including chronic headaches. Biofeedback works by teaching the participant ways to control involuntary processes, such as heart rate and muscle tension. By controlling these body processes, patients learn ways to reduce pain. Several sessions of biofeedback therapy are needed for patients to learn how to successfully control headaches.

For a stubborn headache, trying a few of the above treatments together may work best. Keep in mind, although in most cases a headache is nothing to worry about, occasionally it can be a symptom of a serious problem. According to Harvard Medical School a headache accompanied by slurred speech, a change in vision or decreased alertness requires immediate medical attention.


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