Tension Headaches - Medications
Your doctor may
recommend medicine to treat or prevent
only need to take an
over-the-counter medicine for pain. These medicines
usually have fewer side effects than prescription drugs.
Over-the-counter drugs to stop
Over-the-counter medicines that you
can use to stop a headache include:
Try to avoid taking over-the-counter drugs more
than 3 times a week, because you may get
rebound headaches. These are different from tension
headaches. They usually occur after headache medicine has worn off. This leads you to take another dose. After a while, you get a headache whenever you stop
taking the medicine.
Prescription drugs to stop
In some cases your doctor may
prescribe a medicine such as a
narcotic to stop a headache if nonprescription
medicines don't work. But these drugs can be habit-forming and
should be used rarely and only for a short time.
Prescription drugs to prevent
Your doctor may recommend that you
take a prescription medicine every day to prevent headaches. You may want to take this medicine
- Over-the-counter medicines don't work to stop your
- You're taking drugs to stop headaches more than 3 times
- You get a headache more than 15 days a month.
Medicines used to prevent tension headaches
- Headaches: Should I Take Prescription Medicine for Tension Headaches?
Botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) is sometimes injected into
the muscles in the face and head to treat headaches.
In the past, doctors thought that spasms caused tension
headaches. But BTX-A injections do not seem to help with symptoms of tension
headaches.1, 2 And BTX-A may
cause weakness of the facial muscles and may make it hard for you to
What to think about
type of tension headache you have may help your doctor
decide which drug to prescribe.
- There are other things you can try besides daily medicine. For example, you could use cognitive-behavioral therapy or biofeedback.
- The medicine that you take may cause side effects. Some side effects may last for a few weeks or for as long as you take the medicine.
- You may have to try
several different drugs or types of drugs before you find the one that is right
for you. Make sure to tell your doctor how well a drug stops your
- Certain pain medicines can cause a
bad reaction if you take them with other medicines. Before you begin
taking pain medicines, be sure to let your doctor know about all of the drugs
you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines and
complementary treatments (such as herbs).