Yesterday I had a skype talk, which was somewhat intense and after that a mild headache made its appearance. I decided to ignore it, as I do not like to take painkillers unless I am in serious pain. The headache escalated quickly and became almost unbearable. I rarely suffer from headaches and I was very surprised, so I cannot even imagine how people who have to deal with migraines or chronic pain feel. The pain was at the back of my head, right were the neck meets the scull. It hurt as if someone was holding me from this spot, putting a lot of pressure. I also felt mild nausea, but that might have everything to do with the fact that I ate about 1/2 slightly undercooked lentils. In any case, it made me feel even worse. I took a panadol extra and half an hour later I took a second one. They didn’t work at all, even though I was lying down, with the lights closed and I drunk plenty of water that N. brought me. NOTHING. The pain was sharp and I was scared that this was my first ever migraine episode. When I researched the symptoms later on though, it was clear that I suffered from a severe tension headache.
Here is how wikipedia describes this kind of headache: “A tension headache (renamed a tension-type headache by the International Headache Society in 1988) is the most common type of primary headache. The pain can radiate from the lower back of the head, the neck, eyes, or other muscle groups in the body. Tension-type headaches account for nearly 90% of all headaches. Approximately 3% of the population has chronic tension-type headaches.”
Even though I took painkillers to deal with the pain, as I mentioned, they did not help. Here is what helped me and what I found has helped others to deal with tension headaches naturally:
–Use a rice sock or hand warmer and put it under your neck/back of the head/ other head area that hurts. This is what saved my life. I have made my own fabric rice pouch, which I have filled with rice and herbs, including chamomile. I warmed it up in the microwave for one minute and after using it twice until it was cool, the headache was gone. The smell of the herbs helped me relax as well.
–Put a cool compress on your forehead, covering your eyes as well. In my case it didn’t do much, but it did distract me a bit from the pain at the back of my neck.
–Breathe deeply, preferably using yoga or other relaxation breathing techniques. In my case, I hurt so much that trying to breath in a complex way was purely annoying and not helping at all. On the other hand, I am not known for my patience.
–Massage your neck and shoulders or ask someone else to do it for you. As tension headaches have something to do with tension building up, relaxed muscles might help you get rid of them faster.
–Massage your head. This helps the blood circulate, it relaxes you and it also distracts you from the pain at specific parts of your head.
–Ask someone to give you a foot massage. Preferable someone who has a clue about reflexology. Even without that knowledge though, a foot massage is always nice and it helps you unwind.
–Drink water. Many times headaches are a symptom of dehydration.
–Drink lavender and/or chamomile infusions. These herbs help you relax and make it easier for you to sleep after the headache is gone.
NOTE 1: In case you are pregnant or lactating and you feel the urge to take aspirin or any other generic painkiller, don’t! You might hurt your baby. Call your doctor for safe medication.
NOTE 2: If you are a proud female member of the human race, lucky you! You most probably will get more headaches in your lifetime than a male, due to the tension headaches also triggered by hormonal changes. The days before your period or the first months of pregnancy are the days when you should be more careful, avoiding processed foods, sugar and excessive salt. Drinking a lot of water can help and if you know that the headache comes before your period every month, preventative medication is also a solution. I have to say though that taking pills without actually being in severe pain can lead your body to drug tolerance. And that is a bad thing.