How to cure a headache in a pinch?
November 15, 2006 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I've got a headache and it's not going away. I need to write a paper and then go to class. Quick solutions?

Headache's at the front of my forehead and it's nagging, nagging, nagging. It's been there since I woke up this morning and five Ibuprofin tablets later, it's still going strong. I slept 8 hours like normal last night and ate a full lunch.

I have two hours to write this short paper and turn it in at the start of my four hour class tonight. I need to make my headache die down to where I can ignore it or at least distract myself from it. I can't miss class tonight. Tips? Ideas? How do you guys treat a headache in a pinch?

And in the future, how can I stop it from happening? I'm not too sure why I get them--could be my vision, my jaw, a brain tumor...
posted by sian to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
is it in your sinuses? i used to get these killer headaches and regular aspirin/tylenol etc did nothing, but then i discovered tylenol sinus and it cleared it up almost immediately. even if its not a sinus headache, take one. (god that sounds like awful advice and i'm sorry. but no matter what type of headache i have, they always help) IANAD obviously, but these pills really helped me. i'm sure any sinus pills will work. they just have to say sinus on them.
posted by silverstatue at 1:42 PM on November 15, 2006

Try Excedrin. I don't think it has ever failed me and I get pretty frequent headaches.
posted by disaster77 at 1:46 PM on November 15, 2006

Give yourself a serious case of brain freeze and sometimes it'll take the regular headache away after the brain freeze goes away. Pretty awesome :D
posted by banannafish at 1:47 PM on November 15, 2006

Accupressure - sit still somewhere. Pinch, gently and firmly, the fleshy/muscly area between the thumb and index finger of one hand with the thumb and index and middle fingers of the other. Hold that steady, gentle pinch until you start to feel the pain ease (1-2 minutes). Switch hands.
posted by tristeza at 1:47 PM on November 15, 2006

Sometimes a drink with a bit of caffiene in it helps as well. Try a coke?

If not that, try the sinus meds for sure.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:53 PM on November 15, 2006

I find that drinking lots and lots of water sometimes helps me -- I think that I get headaches from dehydration.

IANAD and this is not medical advice.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:58 PM on November 15, 2006

posted by blind.wombat at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2006

A hot shower works for me when nothing else does. I get sinus headaches.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2006

I find that having a big glass of water can help. Like sueinnyc, I can easily get headaches from dehydration. So a big glass of water, maybe some coffee (the caffeine helps but is also a diuretic, which doesn't help if you're dehydrated), and acetaminophen do it for me. Oh and a quick nap. Even if it's only for a few minutes, sleeping seems to release all the tension in my head. A 15 minute nap can do me wonders.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:11 PM on November 15, 2006

Second the water - you may be dehydrated.

If you've already pushed the ibuprofin, try a hot hot hot shower focused on your neck and shoulders, and ONE alcoholic drink. This should help reduce a stress headache to a dull, ignorable roar.

Also, if it's a short paper, do you have enough time to handwrite it or notes for it and then type it? A break from the computer screen might help as well.

IANAD either, but I get pill-defying headaches from time to time as well. The ones that don't defy the pills usually will go away with 2 Aleve.
posted by booksherpa at 2:12 PM on November 15, 2006

There's an amazing product in the UK called 4Head that's a menthol stick you apply to your forehead for topical relief, and it's *amazing*. If you're in the States, I think Head-On is the same thing. It doesn't get rid of the headache, but for those that aren't going to go anywhere anyhow, it's fantastic. A bit reeky for public spaces, but who really cares? ;)

I also read lately that a hard boiled egg can sometimes help - the protein helps slowly raise your blood sugar, but I suppose that would only help a food-lack-triggered headache.
posted by AthenaPolias at 2:17 PM on November 15, 2006

Try a powernap.
posted by randomstriker at 2:25 PM on November 15, 2006

Sometimes a twenty-minute application of ice pack helps when nothing else does. If you've eaten recently, the food could be inhibiting the absorption of ibuprofen in a timely manner. I second the Excedrin suggestion because Excedrin has a small amount of caffeine in it, which speeds up absorption of the drug. Also, Excedrin has a mixture of painkillers, which often works for people for whom one variety or another will fail.

Make *sure* you're not dehydrated. Even minor dehydration can cause a headache. So drink plenty of water, as suggested above.
posted by digitalis at 2:44 PM on November 15, 2006

One cause of headaches is caffeine withdrawal. That's why Excedrin is a miracle for some people when other remedies don't work: Excedrin (and Anacin) both contain caffeine in addition to whatever analgesic they nominally contain.

If you're in the habit of drinking coffee in the morning, drink some today. (My advice is a bit late, but it may help the next time.)

By the way, taking an excessive number of ibuprofin is not a very good idea.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:48 PM on November 15, 2006

Try a "caffiene nap". That is, drink a caffienated beverage or take caffiene pills, and then go take a nap. When you wake up, the caffeine will kick in.
posted by fvox13 at 2:49 PM on November 15, 2006

Direct, opposing pressure on your head can relieve some headaches immediately. It's better if you can have some one else do this, but it will work in a pinch doing it yourself, if you are strong, and keep breathing regularly through out.

Put the heel of one hand on your forehead. Put the other hand behind your head. Squeeze your head between them, as hard as you can, for at least 60 seconds, or longer, if you can. Release the pressure suddenly, and completely. Continue to breathe deeply and slowly for several minutes thereafter, as you can. Some people need to repeat the squeeze and release cycle a few times for complete relief. Be very careful doing this from the sides of your head, particularly in the temple area, because it isn't nearly as effective in relieving pain for most people, and because you can hurt yourself, applying pressure there.
posted by paulsc at 3:19 PM on November 15, 2006

Paper: Done
Headache: Gone

Sinus stuff did it. I don't think I've ever had a sinus headache before. Yay winter!
posted by sian at 3:24 PM on November 15, 2006

I had one of these this week. 20oz cold Coke and two Excedrin Migraine pills...gone in no time. Granted, I was wired until bedtime, but no headache.
posted by fijiwriter at 3:25 PM on November 15, 2006

hooray for sinus pills! glad you feel better.
posted by silverstatue at 5:07 PM on November 15, 2006

Massaging along the brow ridge can also help relieve sinus headaches. Focus on the corners of the eyebrows and don't be afraid to press hard. Sometimes you'll feel the most amazing release of pressure. Look at this lovely picture of the sinuses and focus on the corners of the the frontal sinus area that end near your eyebrows. My mom's a nurse and I get awful allergies, and this is what she tells me to do (plus the decongestant).
posted by MadamM at 10:08 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I do the Excedrin + caffeine nap thing when I get a bitch of a headache. Take 2 Excedrin with a caffiniated beverage of your choice after eating 3-5 saltine crackers. Then lie down for about 30-45 minutes. You don't necessarily have to sleep, but just lie down, close your eyes, and get nested in your bed/sleeping area.

My headaches go away after this process.
posted by sperose at 11:25 PM on November 15, 2006

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