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Show 1055: What Are the Best Treatments for Headaches?

Tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines all call for different approaches to prevention and treatment. What should you know?
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What Are the Best Treatments for Headaches?

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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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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