At least 60% of people over the age of 50 live with chronic pain. One of the most common sources of discomfort among people living with chronic pain are headaches, second only to lower back pain. Having a headache makes it difficult to function in every aspect of life, including driving a car, working, and even just holding a conversation. Knowing how to treat headache symptoms and when to visit a medical clinic or even an emergency room for your headache can really improve your quality of life if you suffer from chronic headaches.
At Home Treatments For Headaches
You can often find relief from a mild headache at home. A few techniques that doctors recommend trying before going to a medical clinic include:
- Relaxation. Making yourself relax will help ease the tension in your muscles and relieve the pain in your head. Lie down in a dark room and close your eyes. Take a hot bath. Massage you neck and gently rub your temples in a circular motion.
- Hot and Cold Treatment. Soaking your feet in hot water will draw the blood away from your head and reduce pain. Put a hot compress on your neck to reduce the tension in your muscles and then put a cold compress on your forehead to constrict the blood vessels and reduce pressure on your head.
- Caffeine. You might notice that a lot of over-the-counter medications for headaches include caffeine. This is because caffeine reduces the blood flow in vessels in the brain, which eases the tension. If you have a headache, drinking a strong cup of coffee can help ease the pain.
- Hydration. Sometimes headaches are a result of your body getting dehydrated. Drinking a few cups of water might be all it takes to ease the pain on your head.
- Natural Remedies. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat headaches for centuries. To use ginger as a headache treatment, simply mix one teaspoon of freshly ground ginger into a glass of hot water and drink. Another natural anti-inflammatory agent, pineapple, contains an enzyme called bromelain that relieves swelling and pain in your head. To get headache relief with a pineapple, make yourself a smoothie by blending a peeled pineapple (including the core, which is the most bromelain-rich part) with some ice and your favorite fruit.
When to Visit a Health Clinic For Your Headaches
It might be beneficial to see a doctor when:
- Your headaches begin to occur more frequently than usual
- Your headaches are becoming more painful and intense than usual
- Your headaches interrupt your ability to participate in normal activities
While these signs may not indicate an emergency, getting immediate care may significantly improve your quality of life. If your regular doctor cannot fit you in soon, you may find the care you need at an urgent care clinic.
When to Seek Immediate Emergency Room Care
In some cases, a headache could be a sign of a serious or life threatening condition. Call 911 and get to an emergency room immediately if your severe headache is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness
- Trouble seeing, speaking, or walking
- Severe vomiting
- Stiffness, especially in your neck
- Paralysis on one side of your body