Headaches can't be cured, but they can be controlled. There are many medications that can either stop the pain associated with headaches or stop the symptoms, like nausea, that accompany them.
Headache treatment often depends on the type, the severity, and the frequency of occurrence.
General treatment options
Other options for treating headache and migraine include:
- Treating any underlying disorders which may be contributing, such as high blood pressure.
- Painkilling drugs.
- Medications that act on the arteries.
- Eliminating any drugs that may be causing headache as a side effect, such as birth control pills.
- Stress management.
Medicines for the treatment of headaches
Over-the-counter pain medications are often effective headache relievers. Try acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for tension headaches. Migraine headaches may respond to aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), or combination medications such as Excedrin Migraine. Prescription medications used for migraine headaches include ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine with caffeine (Cafergot), isometheptene (Midrin), and triptans like sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), almotriptan (Axert), andzolmitriptan (Zomig). Sometimes medications to relieve nausea and vomiting are helpful for other migraine symptoms.
In general, medications for headaches focus on two areas:
- Abortive therapy -- to stop a headache that has already started, and
- Prophylactic or preventive therapy -- to keep headaches from occurring.