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Treatment. Headache

By Editorial Team (Y)
December 17, 2021

Headache treatment

Though it is always better to try natural remedies before more severe drugs, if natural options do not help alleviate your headaches, seeking medical, professional help is the next step. Some headaches could be your body’s way of telling you that something more serious is going on, and you need to have it looked at and treated as soon as possible. There are many different kinds of headaches, and even though they have some different symptoms, they are all painful. Other headache symptoms can include sensitivity to light, irritability, and nausea.

Medications for headache treatment

Several different medications are available to help prevent and treat tension and migraine headaches. 

Tension headaches

Over-the-counter pain medications for headaches such as Aleve (naproxen), aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), or Advil (ibuprofen) are usually effective for most tension headaches. The problem with these medications is that taking too many of them (three or more times per week) can cause “rebound” headaches. These rebound headaches can be challenging to treat. In addition, aspirin should not be given to anyone less than 19 years old due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome. 

Migraine headaches

Medications known as “triptans” are widely used to treat migraine headaches. They come in pill form, skin patches, and injectable form. Examples of triptans are Amerge (naratriptan), Imitrex and Zecuity (sumatriptan), and Maxalt (rizatriptan). Another option suitable as a cure for a headache like a migraine and is available as a suppository is Ergotamine. A nasal spray that quickly constricts blood vessels and decreases inflammation is also available. If they are taken early, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be effective at the very first sign of a migraine. For people who have at least three migraines per month that are prolonged and severe, doctors may prescribe a preventive treatment that is taken continually. Examples of these preventative treatments may include: 

  • Certain medications used to control high blood pressure
  • Certain medications used for depression
  • Certain medications used for epilepsy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Biofeedback and relaxation therapies
  • Avoidance of certain foods
  • Cefaly: This is a small headband-like device that sends impulses through the skin of the forehead to a nerve that is associated with migraines

Cluster headaches treatment

Treatment for a headache like a cluster type can include the inhalation of pure oxygen because regular pain tablets may not be effective enough to alleviate the pain. Placing lidocaine or a similar anesthetic inside the nose is helpful for other people. The use of triptans or Ergotamine, if taken at the very onset of a cluster headache, can also be beneficial in some cases. In many cases, medications to prevent migraines, such as a blood pressure medication, or steroids, are given at the first sign of a new cluster of headaches.

Secondary headaches treatment

Other natural cures for headache symptoms involve remedies that may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Vaporizing essential oil and inhaling the steam (peppermint oil is analgesic and helps to alleviate inflammation).
  • Combine Lavender and Chamomile essential oil with fractionated coconut oil for a soothing massage. You can add orange or other essential oil with citrus properties as it is known to uplift a low mood and help you relax. The sedative qualities of lavender and chamomile are great for a good night’s rest and to soothe your headache.
  • Using an ice pack at the back of your neck to help alleviate the inflammation associated with a headache.

Prevention of a headache

Not all headaches can be prevented, but the following suggestions may be helpful and could eliminate having to seek an effective cure for a headache:

  • Avoid triggers – Start keeping a diary if you are not certain what, if anything, triggers your headaches. Write down specific details each time you get a headache. These details should include what time did it start, what you were doing when it started, what and when did you eat before the onset, how long did it last, how much sleep had you been getting, did you take anything for the pain, and if so, did it help. You may eventually begin to see a pattern. You can use this information to avoid your triggers and prevent headaches.
  • Avoid overuse of medication – The use of medications for headaches, even over-the-counter drugs, three or more times per week can cause your headaches to occur more often and be more severe. These are known as “rebound headaches.” If you are using medications too frequently, talk to your doctor about how to decrease your use. It can be dangerous to stop or reduce some drugs abruptly.
  • Get enough rest – Try to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day and try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
  • Eat regular meals – Eat breakfast every day and have lunch and dinner regularly. Avoid caffeine and any other drinks or foods that trigger your headaches.
  • Exercise regularly – Physical activity can improve your physical health and mental outlook and reduce stress. Get your doctor’s approval, then start slowly to avoid injury.
  • Reduce stress – Many chronic headaches are caused by stress. Try to simplify your life and keep a positive attitude. Plan ahead and find time to relax each day. Take a warm bath, meditate, listen to music or read. Try yoga or relaxation exercises such as tai chi.
  • Limit caffeine – Or even better, eliminate it altogether. It can make headaches worse. Try also to limit or eliminate alcohol to prevent headaches.

Pathological Changes

Primary headaches are those headaches that are not a symptom of some other disease or illness in your body. These headaches are caused by the structures in your head responsible for sensing pain. A variety of factors or a combination of factors can contribute to their development, including the muscles in your neck and head, chemical interactions in your brain, the blood vessels or nerves in your head outside of your skull. Some people are more prone to primary headaches due to their genetic makeup. Common primary headaches include:

  • Migraines
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Cluster headaches

Other primary headaches that are sometimes a symptom of another disease or illness and have distinct characteristics include:

  • Cough headaches
  • Sex headaches
  • Exercise headaches
  • Chronic daily headaches

There is another group of primary headaches caused by external or lifestyle factors. These include:

  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Stress
  • Poor posture
  • Skipped meals
  • Lack of sleep or changes in sleep habits
  • Certain foods

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