Take your headache to a doctor if you experience "neurological manifestations" (such as flashing lights, blurred vision, slurred speech, and numbness, weakness or less feeling in a limb), or if the headaches seem to be triggered by exertion such as exercise, sneezing, or bowel movements.
Other red flags:
- Headaches three or more times per week.
- Sudden or very severe head pain, especially if you were previously pain free.
- A headache you'd call the worst you've ever had.
- A headache after a head or neck injury.
- A headache accompanied by fever, nausea, shortness of breath, or vomiting, or unexpected symptoms of eyes, ears, nose, or throat, or a stiff neck.
A trip to the doctor can help eliminate discomfort.
Treating your headache
OTC medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, are the first line of defense for treating the common headache. Some other methods:
- Place an ice pack on the forehead, eyes, temples, or nape of the neck.
- Take a warm bath or shower to help relieve tension.
- Rest in a quiet, darkened room.
- Use simple relaxation techniques -- breathing deeply, relaxing your muscles and using visual images.
- Try progressive relaxation. Tense your toes slowly as you breathe in, then relax your toes as you let go of the tension and exhale. Work your way up the body, tensing and relaxing other muscles.
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least three to four times a week. Any aerobic exercise slows your heart rate and releases painkilling chemicals in the brain.
- Avoid foods associated with the onset of your headaches.
- Limit caffeine intake.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Don't skip meals.
Have your eyes checked.