Headaches can strike at any time and are common on the warmest days of summer, especially when mercury spikes in the middle of a heat wave.

Dr. Steve Allder, consultant neurologist at Re:Cognition Health, said: “From genetics, diet, food intolerances, hunger and allergies, to hormones, lifestyle, weather conditions, environment, fatigue, sleep disturbance or deprivation, strenuous exercise, dehydration and broader medical problems. .”

If you are suffering from recurring or painful headaches, it is always best to consult your GP. But if you’re looking for a way to soothe a nasty headache without resorting to painkillers or pills, there may be other options.

Experts outline 9 ways to treat headaches without taking painkillers…

1. drink water

Dehydration is a known cause of headaches

Anita Krishnan, PhD, Consultant Neurologist and Divisional Clinical Director at The Walton Center said: “If you are prone to headaches, make sure you stay well hydrated and drink two to three liters of water a day.”

Alder adds:

A good way to tell if you need to increase your water intake? Check the color of your pee. If it’s dark, you may be dehydrated.

2. Watch your blood sugar

Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, can cause headaches, but the exact reason is not clearly known.

“Migraines and cluster headaches can also be caused by hypoglycemia,” says Deborah Lee, PhD, of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy. “Adults who suspect that low blood sugar may be the cause of their headaches may benefit from taking 15g of glucose immediately. 3 boiled sweets, 4-5 jelly babies, or half a cup of soda (not unsweetened).”

However, for people with diabetes or other health conditions that can affect blood sugar levels, it is important to follow only medical advice specific to your needs. Therefore, diabetics with hypoglycemia should follow their primary care physician’s advice,” said Lee.

3. Get some sleep

Taking a short nap or going to bed earlier than usual may help relieve headaches. “If a person has a severe headache, the most common type of migraine, sleep can help them recover from that attack,” explains Krishnan.

Experts agree that one of the best ways to prevent headaches is to get a good night’s sleep.

Dr Alder said: Migraine.

4. Avoid Trigger Foods

In the case of migraines, affected people often know which foods cause or exacerbate their symptoms.

“Some of the most commonly reported food triggers are dairy products such as cheese, processed meats, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine,” says Leila, a physician-turned-nutritionist at Plant Based Health Professionals. Dr Deagan says.

5. Beware of Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine withdrawal headaches are no fun!

“Caffeine withdrawal can lead to severe, painful headaches,” says Dr. Bryony Henderson, Livi’s Principal GP. “This can also be accompanied by nausea, anxiety and irritability.”

If this sounds like a problem, it might be best not to go cold turkey if you like coffee and want to cut back on your caffeine intake.

“Take it off slowly over six weeks,” Henderson suggests. “Try watering down your coffee, using a smaller cup, or replacing drinks with tea or decaffeinated beverages.”

6. Cover your eyes

bright lights make headaches worse

“Bright light, especially flickering and glare, can trigger migraine headaches,” says Nabila Jones, Ph.D., an optometrist and researcher at Eye Hospital Group Optegra. “To manage this, sit in a dark room and cover your eyes.”

What happens if you’re out in the sun when you have a headache? “If you’re outdoors, sunglasses and polarized lenses can help reduce the intensity and glare of the light, which can help reduce pain levels.” increase.

7. Avoid strong smells

Have you ever found that certain smells you normally like, such as perfumes or strongly flavored foods, become unbearable when you have a headache?

Suzie Sawyer, clinical nutritionist and health expert at Nature’s Way, explains: “If you think you may be sensitive to smells, avoiding perfume, cigarette smoke, and strongly scented foods can reduce your chances of getting a migraine.”

8. Apply ice packs

Is it effective to apply a cool pack?

The market is full of ice and cooling-based products that promise to cure headaches, but do they really work?

“It only provides temporary relief for headaches such as cluster headaches and migraines,” says Krishnan.

“When you have trigeminal neuralgia [a type of facial pain]low temperatures and therefore ice packs can cause pain,” says Krishnan.

9. Exercise

Vigorous exercise can cause or worsen headaches, but some people find that physical activity relieves pain.

“When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers that help ease the pain of headaches once they’ve progressed,” Alder explains. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water as it can make things worse.

Always consult your doctor if your symptoms develop or worsen and you need individualized health advice.

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