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How to Manage a Headache Without Medication

Medically reviewed by Nicole Aliling, MD · Neurology · Centre Médicale Internationale

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 25, 2021

How to Manage a Headache Without Medication

When it comes to headache management at home, people usually turn to drugs or medication for relief. After all, there are a lot of over-the-counter remedies that are aimed towards curing headaches.

However, using drugs or painkillers might not always be the best option for everyone.

Some people may have restrictions when it comes to certain types of medications. Certain painkillers also can’t be taken daily, which can be a problem for chronic headache sufferers.

Some might be worried about possible side effects. And lastly, it might simply be a matter of trying to lead a more natural lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, there are some effective methods of headache management at home. 

These methods may help or complement treatment with medicines and provide a holistic management of headaches.

Headaches: Types, Causes, Remedies

Top tips for headache management at home without using medication

Here are some practical methods of headache management at home.

Lie down

The simplest and most straightforward way of managing a headache would be to lie down. Headaches can be caused by stress or fatigue, and lying down can help rest your body, which can help ease a headache.

In some cases, such as with tension headaches, the pain is caused by tense muscles in the head and neck. By lying down, these muscles can relax, and the symptoms of the headache can disappear.

Rest in a dark or dimly lit room

Have you ever experienced a headache that got worse when you turned the lights on? Sometimes bright light, or even just sunlight can cause headaches to get worse.

This is why one good way of managing a headache would be to rest in a dark or dimly lit room. This helps rest your eyes and can ease the symptoms of some headaches.

You can also lie down in a dimly lit room which can help deal with headaches that result from a lack of sleep or rest. You can even take a quick power nap to help get you recharged and to help ease the symptoms of your headaches.

Resting is a great way of dealing with the pain caused by headaches.

Use a hot or cold compress

Some types of headaches are caused by tired muscles in your neck and head. If resting is not enough to ease the symptoms, using a hot or a cold compress can sometimes help.

Hot compresses are especially great for tired or aching muscles, as well as a sinus headache. Cold compresses on the other hand provide a numbing sensation which can help alleviate pain.

When using a hot or cold compress, be sure to not make it too hot nor too cold. It is also important to wrap the compress with a cloth to avoid damaging your skin.

Try acupressure

Acupressure is another way of managing a headache without relying on medication. In a way, acupressure is similar to acupuncture in that you target certain parts of the body to help alleviate your pain.

In the case of headaches, pressing the area in between your eyebrows, inner parts of the eyebrows, top of the head, nape where two bumps marks the base of the skull, tops of the ears where they’re attached to the face, and at the temples has been said to ease headaches. You can also try rubbing the back of your neck, or the area above your nostrils to help ease a headache.

Studies about the effectiveness of acupressure so far have been inconclusive. However, acupressure generally does not have any side effects, so it would still be a good idea to try it out and see if it works for you.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing helps relax your body, and is a great method of headache management at home.

It would be best if you can do it in a quiet place, either sitting or lying down. Start by breathing deeply using your diaphragm, and pushing your stomach out, and then exhale slowly, pushing your stomach in.

Deep breathing can help with migraine, and headaches that might be caused by stress or being too overworked.

Try meditation

Meditation is another great way of headache management at home.

You can start meditating by simply sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply. Try to focus on your breathing, and avoid focusing on the pain or any other thoughts. This helps calm your body down, lowers your stress levels, and also helps ease the pain of a headache.

Manage your stress levels

Chronic headaches can sometimes be caused by having too much stress. And the best way to deal with it would be to take steps to lower your stress levels.

Too much stress can also lead to anxiety, lack of sleep, and fatigue, which are things that can all trigger a headache.

In order to manage your stress, try to take the time to rest and relax, and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Taking some time off work, engaging in sports and exercising are also great ways to help manage your stress levels and avoid a headache.

Eat a well balanced diet

Having a balanced diet not only helps keep you healthy, but also helps to reduce the incidence of headaches.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce your intake of meat, as well as fatty, salty, and sweet foods.

Learn more about headaches, here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Nicole Aliling, MD

Neurology · Centre Médicale Internationale

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 25, 2021

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