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    Tension Headaches

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    How Are They Treated?

    It’s best to treat tension headaches when they first begin and the symptoms are still mild. The goal is to prevent more of them from happening and to relieve any pain you're already in. For prevention, you can:

    • Take medications
    • Avoid the causes or triggers
    • Manage your stress or learn relaxation techniques
    • Practice biofeedback
    • Try home remedies, like a hot bath, ice packs, or better posture

    Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers are often the first treatments doctors recommend for tension headaches. People with the chronic kind can use some of these drugs to prevent headaches.

    If OTC pain relievers don't help, your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength med or a muscle relaxant.

    Some drugs can keep you from getting a tension headache, like antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and anti-seizure drugs. You take them every day even if you aren’t in pain, so that you end up using less medication over time.

    Keep in mind that medications don't cure headaches and that, over time, pain-relievers and other drugs may not help as much as they did at first. Plus, all medicines have side effects. If you take one regularly, including products you buy over-the-counter, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. You'll still need to find out and deal with the things that are causing your headaches, too.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on May 13, 2016
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