17 Tricks To Get Rid of a Headache


woman with headache

Oof. Ouch. That pounding pain at the temples. That throbbing at the base of the neck. Yep, it's a headache, and it is excruciatingly painful. The first thing we might do is head to the medicine cabinet and grab a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but what if the stash is completely empty? Is there any way to get fast relief? Have no fear, because we've found some of the best and fastest ways to put an end to headache pain. 

Some of the tips are completely natural, whereas others need a little more finessing to really work. Either way, we know all too well what it's like when a headache is coming on. If a headache happens at work or while we're stuck at, say, a Sunday morning soccer match, where there are no medications around, try one of these 17 ways to get rid of a headache -- fast. Relief will soon be on its way.

  • Drink Water

    woman drinking water
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    This trick might seem obvious, but headaches can often happen when we're dehydrated and haven't been drinking enough H2O. We need to take a second to think about how much (or how little) water we've drunk in the past 12 hours when a headache starts, and usually, lack of water is the clear culprit. According to Healthline, drinking water has been shown to relieve symptoms in dehydrated people within 30 minutes to three hours after taking a drink.

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  • One Word: Caffeine


    Caffeine is actually pretty fickle. Regular coffee drinkers know that too little coffee can cause a major withdrawal headache, but too much coffee can lead to dehydration, which causes a headache too. If a headache falls into the former category, try drinking a cup of coffee, tea, or any veberage with a little caffeine in it. Over the counter pain reliever medications, such as acetaminophen, can also work in a jiff.

  • Keep It Cool

    ice cubes
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    Sometimes the throbbing pain has gone past the point of a headache and is now in full-on migraine territory. If that's the case, perhaps a little cold applied to the forehead can do the body good. Take an ice pack, ice cubes, or even a bag of frozen vegetables, and apply them to the forehead and temples. Alternate 15 minutes of the cold compress on the forehead and 15 minutes off.

  • Get a Full Night's Rest

    woman sleeping
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    If headaches are a common occurrence, it might be worthwhile to consider what habits need to be tweaked to lessen their frequency. Sleep can be a huge factor when it comes to headaches, and too little sleep, too often, can set someone up for some serious pain. Make getting a full night's rest a top priority, and if a headache is happening right now, lie down and get some rest.

  • No Ponytails

    hair tie
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    Pulling our hair back into a ponytail in the morning is pretty much an unconscious habit, but sometimes tight hairstyles can put too much pressure on the head, and that can cause headaches. Try taking out hair ties, scrunchies, or even headbands that might be putting too much pressure around the head, and lightly message the scalp to get the blood pumping and alleviate pain.

  • Step Away From the Laptop

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    Too much screen time can be one of the most common triggers for headaches, Mount Sinai hospital explained, and long hours spent looking at screens, whether that be TV, computer, or phone, can lead to exhaustion and lack of circulation. Although the hospital's website noted that eyestrain alone doesn't cause headaches, it certainly doesn't help, and it might be best to to take breaks when spending long periods of looking at a computer screen.

  • Exercise

    woman exercising
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    Another way to get rid of consistent headaches is by exercising regularly. Regular exercise releases endorphins in the body, which is the body's natural painkiller, according to the American Migraine Foundation. The organization noted that a 2011 study found that for participants who exercised three times a week for 40 minutes, it was as effective as doing relaxation techniques or using the migraine medication topiramate. So hit the gym!

  • Massage


    Sometimes a little massage can help release tension and get blood flowing to stop a headache ASAP. First work the neck and shoulders, using thumbs in a circular motion. Then work up and message along the base of the neck, the scalp, behind the ears, at the temples, and even the forehead. Sometimes massaging along the jawline can also relieve tension, as can pressing into the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and index finger.

  • Breathe

    woman breathing

    There's a good reason why breathing is so important to relaxation techniques such as stretching or meditation. It can help lower the heart rate, and managing stress can be key to lowering headache pain. Practice box breathing techniques, which consist of four counts of taking a deep breath in, holding for four counts, releasing for four counts until the lungs are empty, and holding for another count of four before starting the cycle again.

  • Drink Ginger Tea


    Ginger has been proven to have many health benefits, but when it comes to headaches, the perks of ingesting ginger are tenfold. According to Healthline, ginger root has been found to have several beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. A recent study of 100 people with chronic migraines found that ingesting 250 mg of ginger powder was as effective as the conventional headache medication sumatriptan at reducing pain. Those who don't like tea can take ginger powder in a capsule.

  • Keep Away From Strong Smells

    cleaning products

    The day that we wake up with a headache is the day we know we won't be wearing any perfume or cooking with onions. In fact, strong smells, such as perfume, cigarettes, strongly scented foods, and cleaning products, can be huge triggers for headaches or migraines. If constant headaches seem to be a problem, keep strong smells to a minimum and perhaps open the window to air out the house.

  • Take Medication -- in Moderation

    woman taking medication
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    It might seem like a no brainer -- when a headaches gets bad, take some medication. But there are certain tricks that will help headache sufferers heal even more quickly, according to WebMD. Try to take liquids over pills because the body will absorb it faster, the website stated, and take painkillers as soon as pain is felt because it is easier to kill the pain with a smaller dosage of medication at that point.

  • Don't Chew -- Really

    woman eating pizza

    We love a stick of Trident as much as the next person, but chewing gum, crunchy or sticky foods, or even fingernails can hurt the jaw, and what's bad for the jaw is bad for the head. Stick with soft foods and take small bites while eating. If mornings bring headaches, contact a doctor about a mouthguard, which may prevent night time grinding that can cause head tension and pain.

  • Try Acupuncture 


    Acupuncture is a technique from Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific pressure points in the body, Healthline stated. It's also a practice that has been linked to helping ease headache frequency and pain symptoms. Some studies have shown that acupuncture is as or more effective than headache and migraine medications. So be fearless and give acupuncture a try!

  • Try Yoga

    woman practicing yoga

    Yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress and mixes several techniques that have been shown to help with headache pain such as focused breathing and exercise, and it can increase blood flow. Although we love a power yoga class, even a slower-paced version can be beneficial. If a headache happens when it's not appropriate to hit up child's pose, try some neck rolls, relax the jaw, and try stretching the neck by connecting ear to shoulder.

  • Supplements


    It's important to consult a doctor before trying any new medications or dietary supplements, but some have been thought to help headache and headache symptoms. A B-complex vitamin might be that ticket to protection against headaches, according to Healthline. B-complex vitamins are a group of water-soluble micronutrients that can reduce headache symptoms, and can be found at drugstores, grocery stores or health food stores.

  • Turn Out the Light

    woman sleeping

    When all else fails, there's only one thing we like to do: Head to a cool, quiet room and turn off all the lights. It's not the fanciest method of getting rid of a headache, but it will remove any and all triggers that could make the symptoms worse. We like to take a pain medication, drink a glass of water, and shut our eyes for 30 to 60 minutes to see if the pain will subside.

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