Ricardo Padilla / Assistant Photo Editor

Amanda Teseo

Silhouette Staff

As students, we rely on the functioning of our brain and mind. Whether it’s while taking a test, while completing an assignment, or dealing with a tyrant boss, a proper functioning mind is our greatest weapon to combat daily demands.

If you are plagued by headaches, however, they can act as a significant impairment while battling through student life. Your ultimate shield against this ever-popular condition is knowledge and preparation.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, most headaches are stress-induced and not serious. However, if a headache results in significant pain and lasts for more than 3 days, it may be a warning sign for more serious disorders and thus, medical attention should be sought immediately.

There are two broad categories of headaches: primary and secondary headaches.  Primary headaches are most typical and include tension and migraine headaches.

The U.S. National Medical Library defines a tension headache as pain or discomfort in the head or neck that is often associated with muscle tightness. The pain experienced is classified as dull and pressure-like with no throbbing.

A Migraine, on the other hand, is defined as a more intense throbbing, pounding pain that is usually one-sided and concentrated toward the front of the head.

Migraines are associated with nausea and heightened sensitivity to light and noise.

Secondary headaches are those that occur due to an underlying structural problem in the head or neck. This type of headache is a lot more serious than a primary headache and could be caused by a tumor, bleeding in the brain, or other related disorders. As a disclaimer, the remedies mentioned in this article cannot be applied to secondary headaches.

Stress is usually the source of a tension headache or migraine. We, as students, are extremely susceptible to such stress-induced migraines.

Oh the horror of preparing for an exam to only have a headache arise as you are waiting in line to enter the examination room. We should always be prepared with coping mechanisms to escape its clutches.

Why not pop a Tylenol when you feel a headache coming and get on with your day?

The answer to this question is simple: the body becomes reliant on Tylenol. Remember that Tylenol and Advil are drugs and thus, can be addictive.

Popping a pill when the going gets tough results in temporary relief, yet chronic dependence; not to mention the kidney and liver damage that can result from over consumption of Tylenol or Advil.

Instead, the American Headache Society proposes “relaxation training for headaches.”  When you feel a headache coming on, the first thing you should do is try to relax and take steps to reduce the amount of stress you are experiencing.

You can immediately reduce the intensity of your headache by completing a “relaxation routine.” This involves taking a few deep breaths, filling and emptying your lungs and abdomen with air, then tensing up all your facial and neck muscles and slowly relaxing them. Do this multiple times until pain reduces. These simple steps help increase oxygen circulation and relieve muscle tension.

There are a multitude of other remedies used to clear up headaches. Check out some of the following relief methods below:

Use a thick band: Tie a thick band around your head (just above your eyebrows) when you feel a headache coming on.  It takes about 10-20 minutes to kick in, but it works.

Use a Hair Dryer:  “Blowing warm air on your ears is a great way to reduce the pain of a headache,” says Jessica MacDermid, third year Cognitive Science of Language and Communication Studies. “Place the hair dryer about 30 cm in front of your ear for 10 minute intervals until the pain fades.”

Vitamin Action: Try adding L-Theanine to your diet by drinking green tea or buying L-Theanine supplements.

This awesome supplement reduces stress and increases awareness without any side effects.

Butterbur is an herb that is famous in Europe for its effectiveness in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches, particularly migraines.

As for simple things you can do at home to chase your headache away, one of my favourite home remedies includes Apple Cider Vinegar.

Simply add two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to 8 oz of water, add honey to taste, stir and drink slowly.

Other simple remedies include applying pressure where the bones of your thumb and index finger connect, placing peppermint oil on a Q-tip and rubbing it over painful areas, pressing down on your upper nose, napping, and placing a cold damp rag on your forehead.

Lifestyle changes: If you suffer from chronic headaches, try changing aspects of your diet and lifestyle to reduce headache onset.  For example, you can try reducing your exposure to strong scents (i.e. perfume, paints, and chemicals), avoiding tight and constricting hair accessories (i.e. tight-fitting hats, hair bands, and tight ponytails), improving posture, decreasing cheese, red wine, and cold-cut consumption, increasing sleep time, cutting down on smoking and alleviating as much caffeine as you can.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you steer clear of headaches and pin point what may have caused one.

Ultimately, headaches should not have the power to control your life.

When a headache hits you at the worst possible time, you can be prepared with a coping mechanism.   Experiment with various treatments, supplements and herbs and find ones that work for you.

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