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Headaches Center

Headache Treatment

Headache treatment
Upon diagnosis of a specific headache condition, your doctor will be in a better position to help you mange your headache.  Early diagnosis can help you seek treatment immediately and start to feel better sooner.  Goals of treatment may be to reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches, or, in the case of infection-related headaches, to treat the underlying cause.   Let's take a look at several different methods of treatment:

Alternative Practices
Acupuncture, vitamin and mineral supplements, chiropractic care, and herbs may have some affect on your headaches. However, always check with your doctor about alternative practices and the safety of using them.  Many alternative practices may not be sufficiently backed by scientific research documenting their effectiveness.  However, personal testimony from some headache sufferers may be strong for a particular treatment.    

Diet Changes
Some headaches are brought on by low blood sugar.  For example, some migraine sufferers note that when they do not eat or eat regularly, they experience a headache.  This may be corrected by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.  Other headaches may be caused by certain foods.  Avoidance or elimination of these foods from your diet may accompany treatment.   

Lifestyle
Because a disruption in the normal sleep pattern, smoking, or other lifestyle habit may trigger headaches, focusing on these may provide relief.  Some migraine sufferers experience migraines as a result of oversleeping.  Thus, not oversleeping may be a partial solution to your headache pain.  Cluster headache sufferers may experience headaches as a result of smoking and eliminating smoking may prove beneficial.  If headaches are caused by exercise, a change in the duration, intensity, or how you begin your exercise program may be helpful.  

Medications

Pain medication
Pain medication to treat headaches can be of prescription strength or non-prescription strength.  Medications are typically used during the onset of a headache, in an effort to shorten the duration of the headache, or to lessen the intensity of the headache.  Because rebound headaches may occur if medication is taken excessively, finding the correct dosage is important if you have headaches that occur frequently.  In general, medications are used only as needed when the headache is occurring or about to occur.  

Preventative Medication
Preventative medication may be used to decrease the likelihood of experiencing a headache.  Preventative medication is usually taken every day, regardless of whether or not a person is experiencing a headache.  A period of time may be necessary before effects are seen, maybe between 4-6 weeks.  Because this medication is intended to be taken every day, you should always consult with your doctor before you stop or reduce the dosage of medication that you are prescribed. Possible prescriptions include:

  • anti-depressants
  • anti-seizure medications
  • botulinum toxin type A (Botox)
  • cardiovascular drugs
  • cyproheptadine

Relaxation Techniques
Some headaches can be brought on by stress and your doctor may recommend that you practice relaxation techniques or exercise more frequently in order to help you relax.  Meditation may allow you to focus on your breathing, hence allowing your neck and shoulder muscles to relax.  Or, you may choose to practice biofeedback techniques.  These techniques may utilize visual images, breathing techniques, and oral mantras.  By using these techniques you may be able to reduce anxiety, thereby reducing the chances of an oncoming headache.

Headaches may be common, but there is a wide variety of techniques to treat them.  Living a healthy life is just one strategy for recovering from headaches, and never is a bad thing.  However, if necessary, prescription and non-prescription medication is available.  With these arrays of options, you may be able to have a more fulfilling life. 

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