How are headaches treated?

One of the most crucial aspect of treating headaches is figuring out your triggers. Learning what those are — typically by keeping a headache log — can reduce the number of headaches you have.

Once you know your triggers, your healthcare provider can tailor treatment to you. For example, you may get headaches when you’re tense or worried. Counseling and stress management techniques can help you handle this trigger better. By lowering your stress level, you can avoid stress-induced headaches.

Not every headache requires medication. A range of treatments is available. Depending on your headache type, frequency and cause, treatment options include:

Stress management

Stress management teaches you ways to cope with stressful situations. Relaxation techniques are helpful in managing stress. You use deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mental images and music to ease your tension.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback teaches you to recognize when tension is building in your body. You learn how your body responds to stressful situations and ways to settle it down. During biofeedback, sensors are connected to your body. They monitor your involuntary physical responses to headaches, which include increases in:

  • Breathing rate.
  • Pulse.
  • Heart rate.
  • Temperature.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Brain activity.

Medications

Occasional tension headaches usually respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers. But be aware that using these medications too often can lead to a long-term daily headache.

For frequent or severe headaches, your provider may recommend prescription headache medications. Triptans and other types of drugs can stop a migraine attack. You take them at the first signs of an oncoming headache.

Drugs for high blood pressure, seizures and depression can sometimes prevent migraines. Your healthcare provider may recommend trying one of these medications to reduce headache frequency.

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