Currently there is no absolute cure for headaches; however, there are numerous treatment options available, including medications and complementary therapies. It is important to always consult your doctor before undertaking any kind of treatment.
Headache treatment can be categorised into two main types of treatment: acute (administered when you feel the headache start to reduce a current headache) and prophylactic (administered to reduce the frequency of headaches over time).
Acute treatments include things like over-the-counter painkillers (e.g., aspirin), which can be combined with codeine or with sedatives.
This is the most common form of treatment and is quite safe to take with minimal side effects. However, before giving these medications to children it's important to read the label properly and consult your doctor. Additionally, for more severe headaches like intense migraines doctors can prescribe stronger analgesics and triptans such as sumatriptan. Anti-nausea medications are also prescribed for those who are prone to bouts of vomiting as an unfortunate side effect of migraines.
This form of treatment is to prevent the frequency and reduce the severity of headaches. These are normally taken every day, whether the headache is present or not. Medications include Pizotifen and beta-blockers, which block adrenaline receptors in your nervous system.
Preventative treatment also includes less invasive forms of treatment such as the following:
- Acupuncture. Stimulation of certain points in the body can actually release endorphins, which in turn trigger an analgesic response. However, this treatment needs to be undertaken frequently to achieve results.
- Meditation. Regular meditation for as little as 10 minutes per day has proven to be quite effective at reducing the body's stress response and consequently reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches. This involves practicing simple breathing exercises in a quiet space and focusing on relaxing the body's muscles and clearing the mind. Spiritual meditation in particular can be an effective form of meditation to reduce headaches.
Keeping a daily headache diary is an effective tool to record symptoms, characteristics of your headaches and dietary intake (which can have a strong impact on the severity of headaches). This diary can help highlight which forms of treatment are working for you and identify certain lifestyle factors that increase the frequency of headaches.
Overall, headache treatment is a broad area which covers a range of treatments. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, so everyone needs to find out what works best for them.