Every once in a while you can end up with a headache and think no big deal, I’ll just sleep it off…
But then you wake up and it’s still there.
It just keeps growing and getting worse.
Building and throbbing until you feel like you are going to break.
It’s really scary.
I’ve had a few of them throughout my life and even though they were doozies, I’m still here today and now migraine free for over 5 years.
In this article I’m going to be talking about the headache that won’t go away and 9 things to do about it.
1. Double Check
First and foremost it’s important to make sure we aren’t causing the headache with rebound drugs or medications, because these can continue to create headaches no matter what we try.
When we take a substance that causes vasodilation or vasoconstriction, if the amount taken is more than the body can compensate for then we may experience a “rebound” effect.
Chronic migraine and other chronic headache sufferers know that medications can be life savers, but when we end up taking medication:
– In excessive doses
– The wrong type
– Too frequently
We can end up with rebounding headaches.
So first and foremost double check your medications and sources of vaso constrictors and dilators like chocolate, histamine, tyramine, caffeine etc.
Watch the video below to hear Dr. David Hills advice on how to make a headache go away.
2. Remove sensitive or trigger foods
One of the first places to look and one of the biggest clinical relievers of headaches is removing sensitive foods.
There are different types of sensitive and trigger foods that can continue aggravating our brains and bodies.
But there’s a catch, they are different for everyone.
Some people do well with coffee, others are sent into rebound by it.
Some people do well with high histamine foods, others cannot tolerate them.
But there are a few common links between most people with food triggers:
– The gut isn’t functioning properly
– Immune system is aggravated
– Detoxification is overloaded or compromised
Now when we talk about sensitive and trigger foods we can get into an amazing discussion about the gut-brain connection and how the health of our gut is directly proportional to the health of our brain.
But that is beyond the scope of this article as it would take 5000 words to cover and if you’d like to learn how food triggers can make or break your head healing program, click here to join our food triggers guide
To make it simple we can cover what are called the common 10 trigger foods.
These foods are what some food studies have found to be the most commonly aggravating foods to migraine and headache sufferers.
This list is definitely not an end all be all list but includes:
Coffee and Tea
If all of these are sensitive then it’s important to remember that something deeper is going on that is disrupting gut function which needs to be addressed first.
See our article on 7 great tips for complex and complicated migraines here.
3. Have you checked your sleep ergonomics?
One of the common contributors to headaches that won’t go away is what are medically known as cervicogenic headaches.
Cervico meaning neck and genic meaning created.
These neck-created headaches can continue giving us pain day-after-day-after-day if we don’t address the source of their caused imbalance.
Musculoskeletal imbalances, poor ergonomics and bad sleep posture can all add to tension on our shoulders, necks and heads that can aggravate pain and keep it coming back.
If you have chronic headaches it’s incredibly important to get a full physical assessment from an advanced physical practitioner like a CHEK practitioner.
They can not only help you determine imbalanced muscles but also help guide you to if they are being caused by poor organ function.
With more and more desk jobs, posture and ergonomics are at the forefront of creating health issues and helping us prevent them.
Sitting is the new smoking so we need to be wary of how we are positioning ourselves for hours a day.
If we are placing too much weight on a given area of the body we can end up with pinched nerves and this can lead to a host of problems including radiating pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and even organ dysfunction.
See the picture below for sitting posture.
Then we have sleep ergonomics.
If your mattress has a crater in the middle of it, throw it out.
Your pillow should also be ergonomically designed so that you’re comfortable and in a neutral position to not exert tension on any part of it while you sleep.
There are a few different sleep positions and your ideal position will be different from the next person depending on your needs.
Using tools like a pillow between your legs and towels rolled up under your neck and back can take 8 hours of stressful sleep off your body.
See our article on 1 Big tip for cervicogenic headaches here.
I have attached a video below from Dr. Axe that goes into some detail about sleeping positions and which ones work best and worst.
4. Do you experience abdominal fullness, bloating, gas or pain with it?
We know everything in the body is connected and each system works off of every other system.
When 1 system is compromised, the stress from that system can spill over to all the others and tax the body.
This is often the case with the digestive system.
If we are experiencing digestive symptoms throughout the day, even little things like frequent burping or gas, it can point to a compromised system, parasitic infection, dysbiosis or help point us to another system that may be causing the issues.
This is why I always advocate and teach that you need to listen to your body.
It cannot talk to us directly, instead, it uses signs and symbols.
Mood swings, drops in energy, acid reflux, loose stools etc. are all pointing to systems that are having problems running their operations.
Start adding up the symptoms and see where they are pointing, do some research and if you need help then find a good holistic medicine practitioner that can connect the dots for you.
For a way to address all the different factors that go into the creation of high trigger levels that may lead to migraines start the 10 steps program by clicking here.
5. Is something else flaring at the same time?
This is a graph showing the percentage of migraine sufferers with comorbidities in 2017.
There is no surprise here.
One of the most common triggers that get reported to me is emotional stress.
When we are emotionally overloaded, everything else falls by the wayside.
Because of all the hormones like cortisol released during these stressful times, our body thinks we are dying and shuts off any cleaning or digesting which severely impairs our ability to prevent other triggers from sneaking up as well.
Now take a look at this graph showing all reported comorbidities.
These are huge.
If one of these is flaring at the same time, then you have a place to go and explore further for the cause.
Always look at the whole picture, what systems are compromised and where the big stressors are coming into your life.
6. Is there too much heat or too much cold in your body?
Do you find yourself getting really hot, have redness or inflammation anywhere?
Or are you cold, get cold easily, feel tired and fatigued?
These can both point you towards what you should work on.
When we go too far into either side of the picture above we can suffer.
But by using the opposite side we can create balance in our bodies again.
Workout a lot? Get better rest.
Feel tired often? Use energy building exercises and foods.
Think too much? Schedule time to not think.
These two forces will constantly impact us no matter who we are or where we go.
A simple trick for if you are too cold is to start regular infrared sauna sessions a few times a week.
If you are too hot and wound up then take some cold showers or try an ice plunge to help reset your body’s parasympathetic nervous system.
7. Support the brains detox mechanism
The brain goes through a process of detoxifying all of the waste that gets created, every day.
There is a system in the brain called the glymphatic system which removes waste through the cerebrospinal fluid.
When we go to sleep and our stress hormones drop(if they drop) then the glymphatic system goes to work, opens up and clears the brain of waste that accumulated throughout the day.
This is why the brain looks like it’s working just as hard during sleep as it is during the day.
It’s working really hard to clean out waste that’s linked to neurodegenerative diseases like alzheimer’s and dementia.
How do we optimize our sleep so that our brain can clear the gunk?
Watch this video then read the tips below:
Always sleep in complete darkness and if you are sleeping in make sure there is no morning light in your room. If light touches your skin, the stress hormone cortisol gets produced to wake you up, cut the light.
Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, this means it needs to be limited to the morning so that blood levels are low during sleep. Caffeine will prevent stress hormones from dropping and sleep hormones from rising.
Have a balanced meal before bed, not just carbohydrates and don’t have binge dinners. A fair amount of protein with some complex carbohydrates and healthy fats make for a deep sleep and no night waking.
Exercise as early in the day as possible so that the stress hormones created from it will drop by bedtime.
Stay hydrated but don’t drink loads of fluid before bed as this can cause you to have to pee in the middle of the night. Tip: Add some sea salt to your water before bed to prevent having to pee.
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Our body is run by circadian rhythms which work off of a 24 hour light/dark cycle. When we wind down with the sun setting and wake up with the sun rising, while doing it at the same time every day, our body can prepare all of our stress and sleep hormones accordingly.
See our article on the 7 vitals of hypnic headaches and 7 crucial questions for waking up with tension headaches here.
8. Stop burning the wick at both ends
We are all guilty of it but there are a few key tips that can keep your brain from breaking while still taking on life at full tilt.
– Don’t try to do more, try to be more efficient
– When stress is high, the foundation principles need to be as fine tuned as possible
– Plan your day and create outlines so that you can maximize any actual working time
– When you plan, make sure to schedule parasympathetic dominant, resting, relaxing and digesting time, you will get more done because of it not despite it
– Find out what type of burnout you are prone to
– Learn to say no
– Stop trying to be perfect, start satisficing
9. Head to the emergency room
If you are ever experiencing pain that you’ve never had before, aren’t diagnosed for or that is not going away then go see a doctor immediately.
It can save you lots of stress and potential damage to your body if it’s something more serious than a headache and needs to be addressed quickly.
But when you know it’s a typical headache or migraine that’s just not letting up then going down the natural approach and finding a solution that doesn’t cause a list of side effects is preferred.
See these articles for more actionable items you can use for relief:
To learn more than you’ve ever known about migraines because you want to get better fast join the community here.
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Have you ever had a headache that wouldn’t go away? Let me know in the comments below.