Headache Relief

How to Best Treat Your Headache?

Accurate diagnosis of your headache is very important as it directly affects the treatment plan. Your headache can be one of several types and treatment varies for each. Let's take an overview.

Tension-type headache

Diagnostic criteria:

* Feels like tight band around your head.
* Bilateral in location
* Mild or moderate intensity
* Not aggravated by physical activity
* Not accompanied by nausea or any other disorder
* May be accompanied by increased sensitivity to light or sound

Treatment:

* Over-the-counter medication like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen
* Scalp relaxation [see paragraph at the end]

Migraine headache

Diagnostic criteria:

* Unilateral location
* Pulsating quality
* Moderate to severe intensity
* Aggravated by physical activity
* Accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound.

Treatment:

* Preventive medication like beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, Divalproex Sodium (Depakote®).
* Non-drug preventive medication like Petasites Hybridus (Butterbur root), vitamin B2, and magnesium.

Attack-aborting medications (to be taken on doctors prescription only) like ergotamine tartrate, dihydroergotamine (Migranal®, DHE45®), sumatriptan (Imitrex®), naratriptan (Amerge®), rizatriptan (Maxalt®), zolmitripan (Zomig®), Electriptan (Relpax®), frovatriptan (FROVA®) and isometheptene mucate (Midrin®).

A good non-vasoconstrictive abortive agent is butorphanol tartrate (Stadol NS).

Cluster headache

Diagnostic criteria:

* Severe intensity.
* Unilateral in location, around the eye or along the side of the head. Same side during each attack.
* May be accompanied by nasal congestion, runny nose, sweating, dropping eyelids or eyelid swelling.
* Provoked by alcohol and some drugs like histamine or nitroglycerin.

Treatment:

* Pure oxygen
* Sumatriptan nasal spray
* Zolmitriptan
* Preventive medication like corticosteroids, ergotamine derivatives, and occipital nerve blockade.

Exertional headache

Diagnostic criteria:

* Intense pain after strenuous physical exercise like weightlifting, swimming, rowing, or sexual intercourse.
* Bilateral in location
* Throbbing quality

Treatment:

* Drinking plenty of water before and after physical activity.
* Preventive medication like Indomethacin and Propranolol.


Recurring headaches could be a sign of some serious underlying problem. Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

But mostly the occasional or moderate headache could only be due to strain in the scalp. Relaxation is the key. Some stress management principles have proven track records in preventing headaches or reducing their severity. A variety of techniques to ease tension are there for you to avail. Biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation are widely accepted non-drug techniques for headache control, and can be delivered to you by experts. The simplest remedy is deep breathing, with which you have ample control over scalp relaxation.