headaches

Do you know how to treat a headache, beyond taking aspirin or acetaminophen? Can you get into trouble by taking your medication too frequently? (The answer is yes; this can make headaches worse.)

Ways to Treat Serious Headaches:

Cluster Headaches:

Cluster headaches recur with such extreme pain that they are sometimes termed “suicide headaches.” There are effective treatments, including oxygen, but first the patient must get the proper diagnosis. Some people benefit from taking a daily medication to prevent this type of pain.

Migraine Headaches:

Migraines are triggered by odors, changes in weather, stress, certain foods and alterations in the menstrual cycle. They occur primarily in people who have a genetic susceptibility to migraine. Once a migraine starts, the blood vessels in the brain become leaky and inflammation sets in. The resulting pain may last between 4 and 72 hours. It may be accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light or sound.

People susceptible to migraines often benefit by keeping a diary so they can figure out their own triggers and avoid them. Supplements such as magnesium and Coenzyme Q10 may be helpful for prevention.

Sex Headaches:

Sometimes excruciating head pain strikes at just the wrong time. How should such sex headaches be evaluated? What is the most effective treatment?

Learn about the latest drugs and nondrug approaches to managing recurrent head pain and migraines.

This Week’s Guest:

Jennifer S. Kriegler, MD, is director of the Headache Medicine Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. She is part of the Center for Neurological Restoration and the Headache Section of the Neurological Institute in the Department of Neurology of the Cleveland Clinic.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

Join Over 145,000 Subscribers
at The People's Pharmacy

Get our FREE daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show.

  1. rob
    Reply

    I have chronic cluster headaches. I’ve tried more than 40 different preventive medications, including oxygen, some several times over. Nothing works except taking Zomig. I resent the constant assumption that these headaches respond to preventive medications when several neurologists have told me these headaches are often resistant to preventive meds. Nor, fortunately for me, do I have rebound headaches from caffeine or aspirin, etc. I’m not the only one who doesn’t as I know others who don’t have a problem. Somehow it’s always implied (Doctors do it too.) that rebound headaches are the gold standard and I am not believed. I’m tired of the nonsense perpetuated by neurologists who give simplistic answers and don’t acknowledge the reality.

  2. Marilyn
    Virginia
    Reply

    I am shocked there is no information on sipping vinegar in water to stop migraine on your site. I recently googled it and found all sorts of information about it working. I gave it a try when i found myself getting a headach recently and it worked for me.

  3. Connie
    WI
    Reply

    I’ve had Cerviocogenic headaches off and on for the last year or two. The present episode I’m experiencing is constant and was triggered by a concussion. These were not mentioned but I understand they are quite common and affect the soft and bony tissues of the head traveling up from the neck.

    They are very painful and worsen with movement. Mine effect my neck the sides of my head, around my ears and jaw and up the temples and to the top of my head. Heat is helpful and various manipulative therapies.

  4. I McNee
    South Africa
    Reply

    After a long and active life relatively free of headaches, early in 2014 I damaged my neck whilst installing a ceiling extractor fan. This arose from merely looking upward at the job for maybe 30 minutes. The consequence was brutal. Severe headaches and suicidal depression, agrevated by doing anything which involved lifting ot looking up. A neurosurgeon diagnosed cervical spondylosis, suggested a rhizotomy proceedure on C 4, 5 & 6 but it provided no relief.

    At the time, pain killer tabs proved useless. I cannot take NSAIDS because of kidney problems, so my GP put me on amatryptaline (a trycyclic anti-depressant) 10 mg / day. This initially helped with both pain and depression but it was loosing effect when, early last year, I fell and broke my wrist. The doctor treating me in hospital gave me Tramaset. This stopped the pain after surgery and coincidentally my headache. Tramaset is a combo drug with paracetamol and Tramadol. I knew paracetamol (acetaminophen) had no effect so persuaded my GP to prescribe plain tramadol.

    Two 50mg capsules per day have worked wonders, together with an increased dose of amatrypteline, 25mg/day, I am 80% pain free. The downside of Tramadol is that it is addictive and withdrawal is unpleasant but I am now 79 and my neck won’t get better so I can live with it. If you are suffering with severe nerve pain, this regimen may well help.

  5. Ken
    Little Rock,AR
    Reply

    I had migraines for years but only one about every 3 weeks. I switched to a mostly vegan whole foods diet and the migraines stopped within a month and I have never had one since (4 years so far). Perhaps they were triggered by cheese or other foods I commonly ate. The diet also lowered my blood glucose from 113 to 90. I lost 40 pounds, my waist went from 36 to 32 inches. Asthma also went away completely along with allergies. I was getting sores on my arms from the sun and after a year they cleared up and have not returned. My blood pressure dropped from 128/70 to 104/68. It is worth a try to stop migraines. I now find that my usual migraine triggers no longer trigger the headaches any more. Chocolate is now OK! I think my body had a lot of inflammation and it took very little disturbance to cause a headache. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables combined with no refined carbohydrates, dairy and very little meat seems to have made all the difference. I know this is all just anecdotal but it sure worked for me. Best of luck headache sufferers. I know your pain.
    Another great first aid help is a foot massage from your spouse coupled with soothing music (harp for me) in a darkened room.

  6. shakira
    www.livealittlelonger.com
    Reply

    Ginger can help reduce inflammation of the blood vessels in the head, thus providing relief from a headache.

    Extract mint juice from a handful of mint leaves and apply it on forehead and temples to treat headache.

  7. J. David Auner
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Reply

    I have only had one migraine, triggered by taking a Vioxx pill which caused enough clotting to tip me into the migraine cycle and a thrombophlebitis. Ironically, the FDA approved Vioxx for migraine treatment that month and also forced VIOXX off the market. My patients called it V Ten double X.
    A good friend was having to fill Imitrex 100 pill packs, two and three times a month but after starting generic Avapro 75 mg at night, blood pressure is better than ever and she requires Imitrex 50, 2 times a month or less – since she is on generic, the milligrams are likely more in the 40mg range which is safe compared to the doses she was taking previously. She is happier as well and not knocked out of action by the headaches or the medication.

  8. Kathy
    Texas
    Reply

    It is scary! I take Zoloft and Welbuton. It is not really working like I wish it would but I am afraid to stop taking them because when I stopped Zoloft, after a few days I became physically ill. Norco 10/325 works to make me feel energetic and happy with only 2 per day. Now no one will write it. I think the two drugs mentioned above are just as dangerous.

  9. JP
    Whatcom County WA
    Reply

    Just once I’d love to see medical professionals acknowledge that there are severe headaches other than “tension, cluster, migraine.” Cervicogenic headaches have secondary causes, but their symptoms are blamed on the tension-cluster-migraine trio, causing years of misery over misdiagnoses. I had no idea there were other causes until I was finally referred to a pain specialist who performed neurotomy. Thank you.

  10. Barbara
    NM
    Reply

    I suffer from chemically induced headaches. Perfume, VOC paints, cleaning products and so on, which restrict my ability to work. These headaches can be severe and last for several days. Except for avoiding the triggering factors, nothing works. Some foods, such as black pepper also cause them. I do wish people understood multiple chemical sensitivities.

  11. Laura
    IN
    Reply

    After 21 years of migraines from weather changes, I am finding relief using Beet Root Supplement. I started using it about 7 weeks ago to reduce blood pressure, which it does. But after about five days of use, I realized that I hadn’t had a headache. And here I am 7 weeks later still experiencing relief. The brand I use recommends 2 capsules 3 times a day. I decided to take 1 capsule every 4 hours. It’s not always exactly on the dot, especially at night, but it is working for me. Before, I had been using an acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine combination around the clock day after day, many times with very little relief. I am so thankful to be using the beet root, instead of the nsaid. Be sure to do your own research

  12. Laura
    Indiana
    Reply

    After 21 years of migraines from weather changes, I am finding relief using Beet Root Supplement. I started using it about 7 weeks ago to reduce blood pressure, which it does. But after about five days of use, I realized that I hadn’t had a headache. And here I am 7 weeks later still experiencing relief. The brand I use recommends 2 capsules 3 times a day. I decided to take 1 capsule every 4 hours. It’s not always exactly on the dot, especially at night, but it is working for me. Before, I had been using an acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine combination around the clock day after day, many times with very little relief. I am so thankful to be using the beet root, instead of the nsaid. Be sure to do your own research on this, before taking it.

  13. Johannes
    Aruba
    Reply

    For years I was hit by cluster headaches, (Horton syndrome), I try all the medicine,oxygen etc.,
    the best result and stopping the attack was a cold tin of “Red Bull” energy drink, after a few minutes the attack stops and I was wondering what was happening….others has same experience?

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Total
USD
Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.