Ways to Help a Headache

For the past year I’ve had frequent headaches (at least 3 a week). They actually got so bad, and so frequent that I went to see a doctor in the spring. They thought it might be allergies or a couple other things so I had blood work done and even a brain MRI. Nothing turned up, and so I’m still stuck just dealing with the headaches. Over this past year I’ve done some experimentation with what helps, and what really doesn’t. Some of the things I will include in the list are common sense, and others might be more insightful. My hope is that if there’s anyone else out there who experiences frequent headaches, this might help just a little.


Try Naproxen Sodium tablets (Aleve) instead of Ibuprofen (Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

I’ve tried basically every over-the-counter pain/headache medication there is and the only one that I have found that consistently works for me is Aleve. Aleve isn’t ibuprofen or acetaminophen, it’s naproxen. I’m not a biochemist so I don’t have an explanation as to why naproxen works better, but I just know that I do not get headache relief with any other medication. I’m actually out of Aleve right now so I tried Tylenol and it didn’t work at all. My boyfriend ended up having to bring me the naproxen tablets he had at his house. I took two and within an hour felt so much better. This may be something unique to me and my body, but it’s worth sharing!


Drink a cup (or a couple cups) of tea

A caffeinated tea can help with headaches because caffeine actually increases the effectiveness of OTC pain medications. I’ve also found that just on its own, tea is incredibly soothing. The warmth helps and it obviously also helps with hydration. Right now I have a tea that has been extremely comforting when I have a headache. I got it from a Starbucks Café in Barnes and Noble. It’s Harley & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea. It’s a black tea with orange and sweet clove. The flavor is amazing and it helps dramatically. I usually have about 3 cups of it when I have a headache and I definitely notice a difference. I try to avoid coffee for two reasons. The first being that I don’t like it, and the second being that most coffees are higher in sugar than tea and sugar can actually cause headaches.


Get a hot/cold head pack

My brother got me one of these for my birthday and I’ve used it every time I’d have a headache since. The filling inside is rice and you can either microwave the pack to make it hot or freeze it for cold. I personally find that the heat relieves tension in my eyes and head and relieves much of my pain. The one I have is from Earth Therapeutics, a brand sold at Ulta, and it’s called an “Anti-Stress Sinus Pillow”. I’d highly recommend this for people who get tension headaches. It’s also great for when you’re sick and congested!


For my persistent headaches I have been using all three of these things at a time for maximum relief. I take two Aleve tablets, drink lots of tea, and heat up my sinus pillow. So far I've found that combination to be very effective!