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Tags: headache | remedy | painkiller | natural

Drug-Free Headache Remedies More Effective Than Painkillers

By    |   Friday, 05 June 2015 07:25 AM

Lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques are better than costly medical treatments for headaches. But doctors are increasingly ordering up expensive tests and therapies don’t offer clear benefits.

That’s the latest word from a team of Boston-based doctors who studied headache treatment trends nationwide. They found millions of Americans who see a doctor each year for headaches often end up paying too much for painkillers, brain scans, and other care that isn’t any better than inexpensive lifestyle changes proven to ease pain.

“Contrary to numerous guidelines, clinicians are increasingly ordering advanced imaging and referring to other physicians, and less frequently offering lifestyle counseling to their patients,” says lead researcher John Mafi, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“The management of headache represents an important opportunity to improve the value of U.S. healthcare.”

Headaches are a leading cause of doctor visits in the U.S. Virtually everyone gets them, at least occasionally. About 12 million Americans go to the doctor each year seeking help for headaches and one in four suffers from recurrent severe tension headaches or migraines.

Americans spend $72.5 billion a year on painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — plus another $1 billion on brain scans that do little to help ease their suffering, studies show.

Dr. Mafi’s research shows much of that advance treatment is unnecessary, expensive, and it may even be harmful. Contrast dyes used in some scans can provoke allergies or kidney problems. In addition, unnecessary exposure to radiation is believed to cause about 4,000 l cancers Americans who receive approximately 18 million head CT scans each year, the researchers noted.

To reach his conclusions, Dr. Mafi examined rates of advanced imaging like CT scans and MRIs in nearly 10,000 patients who sought treatment for headaches, as well as referrals to specialists.

From 1999 to 2010, the number of diagnostic tests rose from 6.7 percent of all doctor visits to 13.9 percent, while referrals to other doctors increased from 6.9 percent to 13.2 percent.

Dr. Mafi says the increase isn’t because people are suffering more headaches. He linked the trend to doctors being more likely to order up more tests and referrals, the advent of more advanced diagnostic machines, and a growing number of patients who press for more than the traditional doctor’s advice: “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

But whether you suffer from occasional tension headaches, a throbbing hangover, or even debilitating migraines, you don't always have to reach for the medicine cabinet or seek out a specialist or costly treat or treatment, Dr. Mafi notes.

A number of natural methods have been clinically proven to ease pain as effectively as over-the-counter medicines and more costly treatments. Among them: Getting enough sleep, eating small frequent meals, applying cold compresses to the head, taking a hot shower, getting a massage, or engaging in some type of relaxation practice.

Dawn C. Buse, director of behavioral medicine at the Montefiore Headache Center, tells Newsmax Health scientific research shows a variety of stress-busting psychological and behavioral practices can ease headache pain.

"These approaches can be very helpful …," notes Buse, an associate professor with the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “Once they are learned, they can be practiced almost anytime and anywhere for the rest of one's life."

Here are six of the most effective drug-free ways to stop headaches, based on the latest health research:
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Headaches can indicate you are not getting enough rest, which can fuel head pain. Most experts recommend getting between 7 and 9 hours each day. Even a 15-minute "powernap" when you feel a headache coming on, can head it off, research shows.
  • Eat a healthy diet; stay hydrated. Going long periods without eating or drinking can bring on a headache. Aim to drink at least eight tall glasses of water each day and eat healthy foods throughout the day to stave off headache pain. Magnesium — in green leafy vegetables, olive oil, and tofu — may also ease pain by combatting inflammation.
  • Ice your forehead. Scientific studies have proven putting a cold compress on your forehead can provide relief from throbbing pain, possibly by reducing inflammation and slowing blood flow.
  • Take a hot shower. Headaches from sinus pressure or congestion can be alleviated by taking a hot shower, which may increase blood flow. Research suggests finding a warm, moist environment — such as a sauna or steam bath — may also reduce headache pain.
  • Try a massage or acupressure. Massage eases stress and tension, which can stop or prevent headaches. The traditional Chinese medicine practices of acupressure and acupuncture have also been shown to work for some headache sufferers.
  • Relax. Mental, physical, and emotional stresses can all contribute to headaches. Consequently, a great way to ease the pain is by engaging in relaxation techniques (such as yoga or meditation), cognitive behavioral therapy and biofeed back — two techniques that involve learning to monitor your pain and address it through relaxation and changing behaviors to relieve stress.

© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Americans spend more than $72 billion each year on painkillers. But new research shows lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques are better than costly medical treatments for headaches.
headache, remedy, painkiller, natural
Friday, 05 June 2015 07:25 AM
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