What Treatments Are There For Headaches?
If you put your head pains with OTC (over the counter) pain killers, then finding a headache treatment probably isn’t a big concern. But if you endure chronic headaches that occur as often as two or more times a week and can last for days or even weeks at a time, there are strategies you can employ to out-maneuver your enemy.
Like occasional headache sufferers, your first line of attack is probably the OTC pain reliever like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or plain old aspirin. However, overuse of any medication can lead to rebound headaches, which are often even more frequent and severe. Using medication should only be one-step in your headache treatment plan.
A comprehensive headache treatment plan integrates drug therapy with life-style changes and alternative therapies to keep headaches under control. Your healthcare professional is an excellent resource in setting up your plan, but ultimately its success is up to you.
The first step in effective treatment is to learn about your particular type of headache. Headaches fall into two categories, primary and secondary, which are re-divided into several types. Primary types include tension headaches, migraine headaches, cluster headaches and essentially any that aren’t due to an underlying cause such as a blow to the head or a brain tumor. Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying cause. A common type of secondary headache is what many people refer to as an allergy or sinus headache. In other words, a secondary headache is usually the result or symptom of another medical problem. Most chronic headaches are primary headaches.
Document them. Keep a headache journal of when it happens, where it hurts, how long it lasts, how bad it gets, etc. All this information helps your health professional in finding effective treatments. It also helps your to identify possible headache triggers and eliminate them. Triggers can be foods, smells, noises, stressful situations and other environmental factors.
Drug therapy for headache treatment also falls into two categories, prophylactic (preventative) and abortive. In most cases, use of prophylactic medications should be both prescribed and monitored by your physician. Although an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as noted above, overuse of medications may escalate the problem instead of providing relief. Abortive medications are those taken to stop a current headache and/or relieve headache pain.
NOTE: Taking certain medications during pregnancy can affect a developing baby. After pregnancy, medication can affect the newborn by way of breast milk. The best course of action for pregnant or nursing mothers is no medication.
Along with drug therapy, there are many alternative, hands-on approaches to headache treatment. Headache sufferers find relief with a variety of alternative therapies such as biofeedback, relaxation techniques (like yoga and meditation), electrotherapy (mechanical massage or deep tissue stimulation), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, herbal therapies, and psychotherapy.
There is no “cure” for headaches, but with a good headache treatment plan you can be a winner, battle-by-battle, in your war against headache!