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How to Treat Cramps in the Stomach & Headache

It’s bad enough to have a headache, but when that pain is accompanied by stomach cramps, the suffering only intensifies. Sometimes the problems are unrelated and require separate treatment, but occasionally they both spring from the same malady. Some causes in which both headache and stomach cramps may be present include viruses, premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, stress and side effects from medicine. Always check with your doctor to confirm the best home treatment, and to ensure that further medical attention isn't required.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Drink herbal tea. Some teas, especially peppermint and chamomile, have a reputation for soothing both headaches and abdominal cramps.

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Apply compresses. Warm compresses soothe both abdominal cramps and headaches 1. Lie on your back in a dark room and apply a heating pad or a warm cloth to your stomach, and a warm cloth to your head and neck. Alternating hot and cold compresses on your head and neck may also be effective, notes MayoClinic.com.

Go for a professional massage, or ask a friend to administer one. Massages may provide relief for both headaches and abdominal pain 1.

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Elevate your legs, or lie on your side with your knees bent. This is especially effective for menstrual cramps 3. Pairing one of these positions with gentle self-massage on your abdomen may also help.

Treat your headache with medication. If you suspect your headache is from stress or tension, look for acetaminophen, which is less likely to upset your stomach. If you suffer from frequent headaches, however, you may be experiencing “rebound” headaches which result from over-reliance on over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Eat foods that soothe your stomach. Abdominal pain that is cramping in nature, rather than stabbing or coming in waves, tends to indicate that the cause is not serious, notes MedlinePlus 2. It may indicate gas or a stomach bug. The best foods for these conditions include soft, milk foods like applesauce, rice and crackers. Water and other fluids may also help.

Tips

Look for other symptoms or clues to help you determine what is causing your headache and abdominal cramp. If they are accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea, you may have viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle will often clue you in if PMS is causing your symptoms. If you’ve started a new prescription or hormone therapy, the cramps and headaches may be side effects.

Warnings

Consult a doctor if you suspect pregnancy or a serious medical condition, including a bacterial infection or a parasitic infection such as toxoplasmosis. It’s especially crucial to seek medical help if you already have a serious medical condition which compromises your immune system, because a secondary illness may be more of a threat to you than to the general population.

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