Posts tagged ‘headache’

Solubilized Ibuprofen Fastest Non-Prescription Painkiller

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you get a lot of headaches, you might be dehydrated and need to drink more water. If you’ve tried that and you’re otherwise healthy, then you probably want the fastest over-the-counter drug you can buy.

Typical painkillers come in a number of formats:

  • Liquids
  • Liquid Gels
  • Chewable Tablets
  • Capsules/Caplets
  • Hard Tablets

This list is in order of the quickest for your stomach to break down. Generally, the harder it is for your stomach to breakdown the pill, the longer it will take to mitigate your pain. While the format does impact the speed of absorption, the drug itself does too.

In one scientific study, researchers found that solubilized ibuprofen (active ingredient in Advil Liqui-gels) was faster at curing headaches than acetaminophen (Tylenol). The median time for solubilized ibuprofen was 39 minutes while acetaminophen had a 53 minute median time.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should take Advil over Tylenol. If you’re not sure which you should take, start by looking at this comparison of common over-the-counter painkillers and talking to your doctor.

Generic brand solubilized ibuprofen is available at many pharmacies too.

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Sources:, Wikipedia (Tylenol, Paracetamol, Advil)

May 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Brain Freeze is Triggered in the Sinuses

By Chad Upton | Editor

When I was a kid, the local 7-11 had 20 Slurpee flavors. Every Saturday, my brother Brett and I would bike there with a palm full of allowance and return with a belly full of food coloring. We didn’t know how lucky we were — I’ve never seen another convenience store with that many flavors. But, there was one thing we did know: BRAIN FREEZE.

While it’s frequently called brain freeze or ice-cream headache, this mind numbing pain is known as sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia in the medical community. Don’t even try to sound-it-out, even the British Medical Journal calls it ice-cream headache.

It happens to some people more easily than others and although your childhood imagination may disagree, your brain is not actually being frozen. The pain stems from a defense mechanism that is employed all over your body.

When it’s cold outside, your arms and legs usually cool down faster than your core because they generally have less insulation (fat) than your core. Because blood flows into your extremities and then back to your heart, the blood coming back will cool down your core. Your body protects itself from rapid cooling by constricting the veins in your extremeties, which reduces flow and slows the return of colder blood into your core.

This is a temporary reaction. After some time, the blood-vessels will expand to allow greater flow so these parts get proper blood flow again. This affect can be quite noticeable in the right conditions. If you’re outside for a while, you may find that your fingers are cold at first, but feel warm later. This is part of the reason they warm up. Also, redness in your cheeks is caused when the blood-vessels expand like this.

As you consume extremely cold food and beverages, the capillaries in your sinuses can rapidly constrict when cooled and expand when warmed. Pain receptors react to this by sending signals to your brain via the trigeminal nerve, the same nerve responsible for sensations in the face. This is why it can feel like the pain is coming from your forehead.

To get rid of a slushie stinger, some doctors suggest holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up. Another tip, which you probably learned at a young age, eat slowly!

There is also a belief that you can only get brain freeze in warm environments, but that’s not true.

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Photo: Tom Magliery (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia, British Medical Journal, io9,

March 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

The Three Plants That Will Improve Your Home Air

Spring is here and the garden centers are open. It’s time to get some plants, especially for inside your home.

Indoor plants are really important. There are chemicals in and on almost everything you buy. If your air is not replenished with fresh air, it can be mildly toxic. But, with the right mix of plants, your air can be cleaned and oxygenated around the clock.

With as little as these three plants, you can have this perfect mix:

  • Areca palm – (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
  • Snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue – (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
  • Golden pothos or Devil’s ivy – (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)

The “Areca Palm” removes CO2 and converts it into oxygen during the day. The “Snake Plant” converts CO2 into oxygen at night. The “Golden pothos” removes formaldehyde and other chemicals from your air.

Using these plants has shown significant oxygen level improvements in real world situations. Having these plants in your home can increase blood oxygen levels by 1% in 10 hours. They can reduce headaches, eye irritation, asthma and other respiratory problems.

These three plants are just a few of the many plants that are considered Air Filtering Plants. NASA has identified a number of similar plants in it’s Clean Air Study — an attempt to understand natural ways to purify air in closed spaces, on earth and beyond.

Read about the other plants or watch Kamal Meattle’s talk at TED for more info.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Photo: Leto A (cc)

Sources: TED, Air Filtering Plants

June 4, 2010 at 5:00 am 64 comments

Caffeine Makes Headache Medicine Work Faster

Not all, but some medicine actually contains caffeine to make it work faster, particularly headache relief medications.

I went to CVS pharmacy and snapped this picture of their headache relief formula.

As you can see, the main ingredients are acetaminophen (aka “Tylenol”) and Aspirin. But, there is a significant amount of caffeine too.

At 65 mg, that’s about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Caffeine allows faster absorption of these drugs and makes them 40% more effective according to Web MD. That means you don’t need to take as much, saving you some money and reduces side effects.

Although it reduces the amount of painkiller you need to take, it raises the amount of caffeine you consume. This creates a slight risk of  additional headaches due to caffeine withdrawal when you stop. Be sure to read the package directions and not take more than recommended.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Web MD, International Coffee Organization, WP Caffeine, WP Codeine,

April 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm 7 comments

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