I've experienced this sometimes when I go for hours without water or little food and suddenly I experience a headache that gradually gets worse as time goes on. Until now I used to just pop a pill and get it over with, but I've always looked for alternatives and frankly the internet is filled with data over data. So I need to be recommended a will-work-in-any-scenario kind of solution.

9 Answers 9


You've almost given the answer in your question: If you have a starting headache due to little water or food, then your best option is to drink and/or eat. Neither pills nor lifehacks should be used instead of drinking or eating.

And then it's another story what to drink or eat if not regular drinks or meals are available, or if the headache comes from other medical situations. But normally, start with drinking and/or eating, and maybe relax and try not stressing.

  • Honestly @holroy, I've tried it but to no avail. Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 6:36
  • Drink water or tea, no alcohol or coffee...
    – jao
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 9:10
  • @SandySands - you seem to be saying your headaches occur on days when you either haven't eaten or drunk, or not had enough of either for some hours. If that's the case, your body is telling you something to which you should pay attention. Change your routines, ensure you eat breakfast, lunch and a snack maybe mid morning and mid afternoon regularly - if the headaches are caused by ketosis/dehydration, then that should prevent them.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 11:51
  • 1
    In my experience, dehydration headaches take about 15-30 minutes to see results after drinking large amount of water (1 liter or more). At worse it can last until i sleep. It is better to keep hydrated than respond only when you get headaches.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 16:34
  • Doesn't fix weather induced headaches, nor the pain or stress related ones. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 12:24

Eat salted nuts and wash them down with water.

There are three common causes that account for the bulk of all headaches (not counting migraines). They are lack of potassium, lack of protein, and dehydration. Salted nuts alleviate the first two and water resolves the third. Results in just a few minutes.

By way of notes, if you were inclined to argue about muscle tension headaches that's what potassium does.

  • Nice ! That's really helpful. I will definitely keep this in mind. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 4:11
  • Are you able to provide any backup/link for the correctness of your statement that these three are the most common causes?
    – holroy
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 16:03
  • Looking for an online source for you Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 18:02

Cold Compress

Soak a small towel in cold water, wrap it around an ice pack, lay down, and hold it on your forehead.

Or, depending on the type of headache...

Hot Compress

Soak a small towel in as-hot-as-possible-but-it-will-not-burn-you water, lay down, and hold it on your forehead.

Tension headaches can also be relieved with caffeine (thus why it's various pain relievers). Drinking hot, caffeinated tea will doubly help.

  • Wow ! That's different and nice. Thanks. But what if I'm not in my home or work. What if I'm travelling and I need to cure the headache using only my body ? Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 12:13
  • There's not much you can do other than lay down and close your eyes. A hack for the cold compress would be to use a sock off your feet and soak it from a water bottle.
    – Mooseman
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 12:20
  1. Hydration - water is best, also try sports drink with electrolytes
  2. Coffee helps if you are into that.
  3. Accupressure/reflexology REALLY WORKS I prefer the hand pressure point.
  • Hmmm... I've tries the first 2 steps but to no avail. Acupressure can be a good direction Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 6:35
  • 1
    It seems crazy but 10 minutes of applying pressure on my hands in the right spot helps. Also neck rotation I forgot that. I don't get headaches like I used to! Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 12:14
  • So much +1 for the acupressure method. I admit, I do not get headaches often, but when I do, it simply works. And when I show it to other people I always get the "are you a magician?" look.
    – Michal M
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 15:22

It is hard to recommend something specifically that will work for you but based on the information you gave, I think it is worth it to looking into trying out a pair of FL41 tinted glasses.

Large number of people (including myself) suffer from migraines because of photophobia, blepharospasm, and any other light sensitivity "syndromes". We are just more likely to have eye strain due to certain light wavelengths.Tinted glasses help block these wavelengths and therefore, keep your migraine from starting in the first place. My migraines were always triggered at work (fluorescent lighting and computer screens) as well as on really sunny days. I tried out a pair of tinted glasses and it was almost instantaneous for them disappearing. Again, not sure if this is the case or trigger for you but it is an option you can explore.

Note: If you do so though, make sure you get "real" FL41 glasses...I guess not all have the same tint density (source: https://www.axonoptics.com/migraine-causes/)


Word of warning: this is an extremely impractical solution.

At one of my old jobs we had an Anechoic chamber.

An anechoic chamber

The result of being in one of these is that is is extremely quiet and when the lights are off, extremely dark.

One of my colleagues used to swear that five minutes sitting in it with the lights off would cure any headache. I can anecdotally confirm.

A less extreme/more practical alternative could be keeping your head under a duvet, curtains drawn, earplugs in.

  • 2
    Sounds like the best workplace ever Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 19:00
  • Hahahaha definitely ! Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 6:34
  • Hmm... Me and some friends tried such a room, and if I'm not mistaken one of my friends got really disturbed and got a headache from being within the room. The silence was to intense, and he kept hearing his heartbeats and stuff, and got a headache...
    – holroy
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 7:34

Bend over at the waist, let your arms hang loose, tuck your chin in and let the blood rush to your head. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat as necessary.

  • Really ? I need to try this out :) Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 6:33

I find that regulating the blood to the brain helps with some headache causes. Something like:

  • Putting a slight pressure on both temples and holding that for 1 minute on, 1 minute off helps.

  • Placing your index finger and thumb on the bridge of your nose (there's a small blood vessel on either side, I believe)

Other than that, though as others have said, water (sips, not gulps) helps.


A headache can be caused by withdrawal symptoms if you are "addicted" to caffeine. See this article from the Smithsonian.

If you are addicted, try slowly reducing your intake of caffeine over a week and then when you do not drink you will not suffer

"the dreaded caffeine withdrawal headache."

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