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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Understanding Headache -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Headaches? continued...

Simple pain relievers do little for cluster headaches, because they do not act quickly enough. However, doctors have found that inhaling pure oxygen can be highly effective in providing relief. An anethestic such as lidocaine placed inside the nose helps some people. Using triptans such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) or ergotamine preparations at the first sign of a cluster headache might also bring relief. Preventive medicines are often used at the first sign of a new cluster of headaches. Choices include verapamil, a blood pressure medicine, or a short course of a steroid like prednisone.

Decongestants -- and sometimes antibiotic treatment -- can relieve sinus headaches.

Avoiding Headache Triggers

If you identify factors that trigger your headaches -- such as certain foods, caffeine, alcohol, or noise -- try to avoid these triggers. To learn more about what triggers your headaches, keep a headache diary that includes answers to these questions.

  • When did you first develop headaches?
  • How often do you have them?
  • Do you experience symptoms prior to the headaches?
  • Where is the pain exactly?
  • How long does it last?
  • At what time of day do the headaches occur?
  • Does the eating of certain types of food precede your headaches?
  • If you're female, at what time in your monthly cycle do they occur?
  • Are the headaches triggered by physical or environmental factors, such as odor, noise, or certain kinds of weather?
  • What words most accurately describe the pain of your headache: throbbing, stabbing, blinding, piercing, for example?


Chiropractic and Osteopathy to Treat Headaches

When muscle strain causes tension headaches, a chiropractor may be able to ease the strain by spinal or cervical manipulation and realignment.

Osteopaths are also able to supplement their treatment of headaches by using various forms of manipulation and soft-tissue techniques to the head, neck, and upper back.

Biofeedback and Relaxation and Headache Control

Biofeedback and relaxation techniques can be effective for headache relief.

Electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback helps you control how specific muscle groups react to stress. This may help prevent or relieve tension headaches.

Acupuncture for Headaches

Several studies have shown that acupuncture may help relieve tension and migraine headaches.

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