H is for horrid headaches. Do I get more points for using two H words? Originally, I had planned to talk about hope for H. I’m having a bit of a down spell though and I’m not feeling too hopeful. What I am definitely feeling is headachey!
Depression comes with physical symptoms too. For me, one of the big ones is headaches. I’ve been having a lot of them lately. Thankfully, they aren’t migraines. Those are pretty miserable. I’ve been getting a lot of those Ibuprofen-resistant headaches. Taking something never helps and the dull ache is just enough to make it hard to function. Usually the only thing to make it go away is sleep. That’s not always an option though. I’ve come up with a battery of things that I try when I can’t just go to sleep.
- Anti-inflammatory. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen are the quickest fixes if they work. It’s rare that they work for me, but if they do work, relief is usually pretty quick. I usually use Ibuprofen. I read somewhere that taking acetaminophen with my medication isn’t the best idea.
- Water. More often than not, those dull headaches are because I’m dehydrated. So I get a nice big glass of water and sip it while doing whatever it is that I am doing. Gulping it down never works. Only sipping it works for some reason.
- Coffee. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m a coffee drinker. Not having coffee, if it’s something you are used to, can trigger a headache. If I haven’t had my daily dose that’s probably the reason. Even if I have had my morning coffee, another cup can sometimes quell the headache. Caffeine constricts blood vessels which can decrease pain. It also acts as a brain stimulant which can help you work through the thought fog that often accompanies these headaches.
- Food. Sometimes I get working on a project and I forget to eat. I am usually reminded of this when my head starts to ache. Eating something healthy sometimes sends the headache on its way. Having something sugary usually results in a recurrence a little while later.
- Ice. Some headaches are caused by inflammation of the dura, the lining of the brain. The artery that supplies blood to the dura is right behind the fragile bone that covers your temple. Putting ice on that area slows the blood flow which decreases the sensation of pain.
- Stretching. The source of a headache can sometimes be neck pain, so stretch your neck. Relax your shoulders and face your head forward. Then bring your ear towards your shoulder without shrugging your shoulder up. Let the weight of your head stretch the opposite side of your neck.
- Peppermint. I get a lot of stress headaches. They are usually caused by holding the muscles around my forehead too tight. The menthol is peppermint first stimulates and then relaxes muscles. I usually use lip balm or peppermint tea. Peppermint oil or lotion works best though. You can massage it into your forehead for relief.
- Dim the lights. Complete darkness would be ideal, but you can’t keep doing what needs to get done if you can’t see. Dimming the lights is a good compromise. This usually doesn’t cure it, but it makes the headache more tolerable.
- Ear plugs. Sometimes all I need is quiet, or to dull the noise a bit. Certain voices bother me a lot when I have a headache, like really loud conversation voices (my sister) or really high pitched voices (my mother-in-law). I love them to death, but I sometimes need to wear earplugs to take the edge off. If I wear the fleshy coloured ones or leave my hair down, they usually don’t notice either. 🙂
- Pressure. Digging the heels of my hands into my forehead feels pretty good when I have a headache. If I’m lucky and I’m wearing one of those belted sweaters that tie around the waist, I take the belt off and tie it tightly around my head. I look like I’m trying to be a samurai or something, but it really works! I’m sitting here now with the belt from my bathrobe wrapped twice around my head and tied. Hands free pressure!
- Sleep. When all else fails, to hell with your to-do list, sometimes sleep is the only answer.
I hope you learned something new by reading this. How do you work with or get rid of your headaches?