• Consult a medical professional to diagnose the cause of chronic and severe headaches and determine the best course of treatment.
• Track the date, time, intensity, medications taken, and effectiveness of headaches in a headache diary.
• Exercise regularly to reduce stress levels and release endorphins for natural pain relief.
• Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water and herbal teas.
• Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night and avoid looking at screens before bed.
Chronic and severe headaches can be debilitating, making it difficult to concentrate on tasks and perform everyday activities. Finding relief is the number one priority for individuals who suffer from these types of headaches. According to the American Migraine Foundation, several treatments are available for managing chronic and severe headaches, but it is essential to find the right combination of medications and lifestyle changes that work best for you.
Fortunately, a few simple strategies can help alleviate the pain. Here are a few tips for managing chronic and severe headaches.
1. Consult With Your Doctor
It is important to consult with a medical professional if your headaches are frequent or severe. A doctor can help diagnose the cause of your headaches, rule out any underlying medical conditions, and recommend the best course of treatment. Your doctor may also recommend you to get the following test to determine the underlying cause of your headaches:
a. Head CT or MRI Scan
A CT or MRI scan can help detect any structural problems in the brain that could be causing your headaches. This can help reveal underlying conditions, such as a brain tumor or aneurysm. But because of long waiting times to get the tests done, this step is not recommended for occasional or mild headaches. However, you may opt to get a private MRI scan to skip the long waiting times and get a more accurate diagnosis.
b. Blood Tests
Blood tests can detect underlying medical conditions causing headaches, such as high blood pressure or anemia. Many of these tests are simple and easy, but your doctor may opt for more complex testing if needed. Ask your doctor to explain which tests they recommend and why.
c. Neurological Exam
Because headaches can be a sign of a neurological condition, your doctor may conduct a neurological exam to determine if this is the case. The exam will test your reflexes, muscle strength, sensation, and coordination. You may also be tested for any changes in vision or hearing.
d. Medication Review
Your doctor may review your current medication and look for any potential drug interactions that could be causing your headaches. This is especially important if you are taking more than one prescription medication.
2. Keep a Headache Diary
Keeping a headache diary can help you better understand your headaches and provide insight into what may be triggering them. By tracking your headaches’ date, time, and intensity, you can gain valuable information on what factors are causing them and when they are most likely to occur. Take note of the severity of your headaches, how long they last, what medications you took, and whether or not they helped. This information can help narrow down what could be triggering your headaches and enable you to come up with an effective treatment plan.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels, which can, in turn, reduce headaches. Regular physical activity releases endorphins which act as natural painkillers in the body. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day—it doesn’t have to be intense or strenuous; even something as simple as a walk around the block can make a difference. You can also try yoga or tai chi to help reduce stress levels.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration is often associated with headache pain, so it’s essential to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. Try keeping a bottle of water with you at all times so that you can sip on it throughout the day—this will help ensure that your body is getting enough fluids on an ongoing basis. If you struggle to drink enough water, try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or drinking herbal teas.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased headache pain. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night to reduce the likelihood of headaches, and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Avoid looking at screens before bed, as the blue light from digital devices can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms.
Managing chronic and severe headaches can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. By following the tips above, you can actively manage your headaches and relieve some of the pain. However, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, so you must consult a medical professional to determine the best treatment plan. You can find some much-needed relief with the right combination of medications and lifestyle changes.