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What medications should you take to get rid of a headache?

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Pharmacy shelves are stocked with pain relievers for all kinds of headaches. They may work, but to get the most benefit with the least risk, follow the directions on the label and these guidelines:: Choose liquid over pills. Your body absorbs liquid faster.

  • Take painkillers as soon as you feel pain. You’ll likely beat it with a smaller dose.
  • Avoid drugs that contain caffeine or multiple ingredients. These are more likely to cause "rebound" headaches. This is what happens when you take medicines too often or for too long. They actually make your condition worse, not better.

SOURCES:

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: "Have a Headache at Work? 13 Quick Fixes."

National Headache Foundation: "Hot and Cold Packs/Showers."

National Health Service (UK): "Sinus headache."

Blau, JN. , published online May 2004. Headache

The International Headache Classification ICHD-2: "External Compression Headache."

Mount Sinai Hospital: "Managing Your Migraines"

National Health Service (UK): "10 Headache Triggers."

National Headache Foundation: "Bruxism."

American Headache Society: "Dental Appliances and Headache."

The Migraine Trust: "Medication for Migraine."

American Headache Society: "Acute Therapy: Why Not Over-The-Counter or Other Nonspecific Options?"

American Headache Society: "Ten Things That You and Your Patients with Migraine Should Know."

Lawrence C. Newman, MD, President, American Headache Society and Director, Headache Institute, Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, New York City.

American Academy of Neurology: "Migraine Headache."

American Migraine Foundation: "Headache Hygiene - What is it?"

American College of Physicians: "Managing Migraine."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Chronic Daily Headache."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 21, 2018

SOURCES:

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: "Have a Headache at Work? 13 Quick Fixes."

National Headache Foundation: "Hot and Cold Packs/Showers."

National Health Service (UK): "Sinus headache."

Blau, JN. , published online May 2004. Headache

The International Headache Classification ICHD-2: "External Compression Headache."

Mount Sinai Hospital: "Managing Your Migraines"

National Health Service (UK): "10 Headache Triggers."

National Headache Foundation: "Bruxism."

American Headache Society: "Dental Appliances and Headache."

The Migraine Trust: "Medication for Migraine."

American Headache Society: "Acute Therapy: Why Not Over-The-Counter or Other Nonspecific Options?"

American Headache Society: "Ten Things That You and Your Patients with Migraine Should Know."

Lawrence C. Newman, MD, President, American Headache Society and Director, Headache Institute, Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, New York City.

American Academy of Neurology: "Migraine Headache."

American Migraine Foundation: "Headache Hygiene - What is it?"

American College of Physicians: "Managing Migraine."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Chronic Daily Headache."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 21, 2018

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