Headache pain can occur anywhere in or around your head, but the front of your head tends to get hit the hardest by many common types of headaches: tension, sinus and migraine headaches as well as those caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, the National Headache Foundation points out.
Sometimes this head pain can be prevented, reduced or even cured with simple home remedies, says Noah Rosen, MD, director of Northwell Health's Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y.
Understanding what kind of headache you're experiencing in the front of your head can help better pair it with the right home remedy. Here's how to distinguish between some common frontal headache types, according to the National Headache Foundation:
- Tension type headaches are marked by mild to moderate head pain that feels like a vice around your head.
- Sinus headaches cause pain, pressure and fullness in your cheeks, brows or forehead.
- Migraine headaches can involve throbbing head pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.
- TMJ headaches can present with pain in your temples on one or both sides of your forehead, and the pain is intensified when you clench or grind your teeth.
Read more: 8 Surprising Things Giving You a Headache
Stellar Home Remedies for Headaches
Whatever type of frontal head pain you're experiencing, experiment with these home remedies to find the one or ones that work best for you to get rid of a frontal headache.
1. Take a time out. Sometimes finding a quiet place and shutting your eyes is enough to take the sting out of your tension-type headache. "Migraines also tend to respond to lying down in a dark, quiet room," Dr. Rosen says.
2. Heat it up. Take a hot shower or apply a heating pad, hot water bottle or hot pack to your forehead and the back of your neck, he suggests. This may be particularly effective for sinus and TMJ headaches, he notes.
3. Put it on ice. "Cold compresses or ice helmets may be effective for some headaches, and there are no risks associated with these treatments," Dr. Rosen says.
4. Rub it in. Massage the muscles in the back of your head, neck and shoulders, or ask someone else to do it for you. Massage can help break up tension headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. Take a coffee break. Coffee can help extinguish certain headaches. Caffeine is even an ingredient in many popular over-the-counter headache remedies, Dr. Rosen says. Still, the Mayo Clinic cautions that caffeine can be a double-edged sword. Drinking more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (about four regular cups of coffee) can actually cause headaches, so you may want to curb your caffeine intake.
6. De-stress SOS. Stress makes everything worse, including your headaches, and especially tension-type headaches, according to research published in the journal Cephalalgia in December 2014. Dr. Rosen suggests finding something to do every day to better cope with stress — deep breathing, yoga, meditation or even going for a walk.
7. Sit up straight. The Mayo Clinic points out that good posture can help improve tension headaches. When you're standing or walking, press your shoulders back, keep your head level and tuck in your tummy and butt. When you're sitting, your thighs should be parallel to the floor (you might need a short stool under your feet) and your head should be facing straight ahead—chin off your chest.
8. Mind your mouth. For TMJ headaches, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research suggests what not to do: Don't chew gum and avoid extreme jaw movements. Also, ask your dentist about simple jaw exercises that can help reduce these headaches.
9. Eliminate triggers. Prevention is key, Dr. Rosen adds. "Stay hydrated, don't skip meals and try and get regular good-quality sleep to reduce the number and severity of your headaches," he advises.
One More Thing …
Many headaches can be safely and effectively treated at home, but if your headaches start to affect your quality of life, it's time to call in the pros, Dr. Rosen says. It's also important to check in with your doctor if your headaches are getting worse and are occurring with other symptoms, such as fever, vision changes or weakness.
Is This an Emergency?
- National Headache Foundation: “The Complete Headache Chart”
- Mayo Clinic: “Tension Headache”
- Mayo Clinic: “Tension-type Headaches: Self-care Measures for Relief”
- Cephalalgia: “The Association Between Stress and Headache: A Longitudinal Population-based Study”
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: “TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders)”
- Mayo Clinic: "Posture: Align Yourself for Good Health"