Headache

Headaches inflict their misery in a variety of ways. Some start from a dull, steady ache maybe in the back of the head, maybe on the top of the head or maybe it is just a pain on the left or right side of the head. Others go straight to a blinding, throbbing pain. Nearly everyone has headaches at least now and then, but an unfortunate few experience near-frequent head pain. Common headache types include tension headaches, cluster headaches, rebound headaches, sinus headaches, and migraine.

There are a number of treatment strategies that work best for each type of headache. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen do the trick for many people. Others need muscle relaxants or even stronger medicines. Some find relief from self-help and alternative techniques like acupuncture.

Instead of waiting to be blindsided by another sudden or pounding headache, preventive strategies can be taken, such as using stress management, physical therapy, or exercise in tandem with medications. Another aspect of prevention is learning to recognize and change things that may trigger your headaches — like reducing emotional stress, changing your diet, or getting more sleep. Advances in the medical management of headache mean that relief is no longer just possible, but probable. Although some form of head pain will occasionally visit most people, no one should have to live and suffer with headaches.

Headache Articles

New thinking on migraine triggers

Suspected triggers for migraine with aura may not be as strong as some people think. Research suggests that a person who experiences migraines with aura can cross a trigger off the list if exposure to it for three months doesn't cause a problem. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Can migraines lead to memory loss?

Some studies have linked migraine headaches to an increased risk of symptom-free or "silent" strokes, which can lead to memory loss and dementia. However, the Women's Health Study did not find a higher risk cognitive decline in women with migraines. (Locked) More »

Headaches from headache medication?

If you have a new or worsening headache, see a doctor. Chronic headache can be made worse by overuse of pain medications. The cure is to stop taking the medications entirely, with use of other drugs to help ease you through medication withdrawal. (Locked) More »

Acupuncture relieves common types of chronic pain

Acupuncture relieves chronic pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, and from osteoarthritis and headaches. Acupuncture is often used in addition to standard treatments, such as pain medications, when they do not relieve pain well enough. (Locked) More »

Fool your brain, reduce your pain

You can help relieve chronic pain by distracting your brain. If you have a demanding enough task, you’ll have less attention to give to your pain. Distractions may release natural painkillers that block incoming pain signals as they enter the spinal cord. Distractions can include memory games or any activity so pleasurable or meaningful that it distracts you from your pain. And you don’t have to choose just one activity. Using your brain to do more things that are rewarding tips the balance away from pain. (Locked) More »

When headaches won't go away

Migraines are a particularly disabling form of headache because they launch a four-tiered attack—the prodrome (or preheadache), aura (flashing lights or other visual phenomena), actual migraine, and “headache hangover.” Researchers still aren’t sure exactly what causes migraines, but women are three times more likely to get migraine headaches than men, in part because of the hormone estrogen. Treatments such as triptans, blood pressure drugs, and antidepressants, as well as newer therapies like Botox and alternative remedies, can help with chronic migraines. More »

Stop migraines before they start

Effective treatments are available to prevent migraine headaches from happening. Yet the majority of people who could benefit from these medications don't use them. More »

Ask the doctor: Headache and stroke

I have heard that one symptom of a stroke is "the worst headache you can imagine." I recently had a migraine that was so much more painful than previous ones that I worried it was a stroke. Is there any way to tell a migraine from a "stroke headache"? (Locked) More »