5 Surprising Ways Doctors Stop Their Own Headaches
This is exactly what top MDs do to beat migraines, tension headaches, and other head-throbbers.
Power up the headache remedies
“I take my medication at the first sign of pain, often with a strong cup of coffee. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, but it also has an analgesic adjuvant property—which means that adding caffeine to a pain medication boosts the pain-relieving quality of that medication.”
—Lawrence C. Newman, MD, Director of the Headache Division and Clinical Professor of Neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center
Worried about that head pain? Here are the signs that your headache could be signaling a serious problem.
Supersize the self-care
“I really try to practice what I preach—preventing migraines with ‘SEEDS‘:
S—stands for sleep hygiene (here’s a guide to practicing good sleep hygiene).
E—is for exercising regularly (at least three times a week, I get my heart rate up to the target for 20 minutes).
E—stands for eating healthy (I will do six small meals a day—you’re trying to prevent blood sugar peaks and valleys).
D—is a headache diary. I use an app on my phone called Migraine Buddy. D also stands for drinking water! Dehydration is a strong migraine trigger for me.
S—The last one is hardest: stress reduction. I can’t control external things but I try to control how I respond so I don’t get headaches from stress.”
—Amaal Starling, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona
If you tend to wakeup with a headache, check out these morning headache treatments.
Log some miles
“I run. Going out in the mornings for me is, quite honestly, therapeutic. Getting my heart rate up and working my muscles eases pent-up tension in my back, neck, and scalp that might contribute to a tension headache later. And, when the weather is right and my body hits its stride, running is a meditative exercise (literally). It calms, it soothes. I notice that when I fail to exercise for long stretches, the headaches can assert themselves. That is all the motivation I need!”
—Jack Maypole, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
Not a runner? Here are other everyday habits that can reduce your risk of headaches.
Try some downward dog
“I’m one of those lucky individuals who rarely gets headaches. But when I do want to get rid of a bad headache, I take 650 mg of Tylenol and take a 15-20 minute nap. To prevent them, I do a lot of yoga and meditation to help me control my bodily reactions to stress.”
—John McBurney, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
There’s no question that stress can make you sick.
Sidestep this common medicine mistake
“To abort my migraine, I will take one of the tryptan drugs (Sumatriptan, Rizatriptan, etc.) or a simple over-the-counter painkiller right away. But over consumption of these drugs can cause headaches to be more frequent, so I limit them to no more than twice a week.”
—Emad Estemalik, MD, Headache Specialist at Cleveland Clinic
You could also try some of these home remedies for headaches.