You may have fewer headaches—and less pain when you do get
- Find and avoid triggers for your headaches.
- Keep a headache diary to find out what triggers your
- Take over-the-counter drugs to
stop a headache.
- Take medicine as your doctor advises to stop or prevent a headache.
- Reduce stress with relaxation and
- Headaches: Managing Headaches
Find and avoid triggers
can reduce how many headaches you have by finding out what
triggers them and avoiding those things. Triggers may
include stress, hunger, and lack of sleep.
- Headaches: Finding and Avoiding Triggers
Use a headache diary
headache diary (What is a PDF document?) to find your triggers. You write down when you have a headache
and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you were
doing when the headache started. This information can help you avoid things
that bring on your headaches. A diary also may help your doctor plan your
Take medicines as your doctor
If you have mild to moderate
headaches, your doctor probably will want you to take
over-the-counter medicines to stop your headaches.
These include medicines like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and ibuprofen
(such as Advil or Motrin).
medicines don't stop your headaches well enough—or you get a lot of
headaches—your doctor may prescribe medicine to prevent
Don't take medicine too often. Talk to your doctor if you're taking medicine more than 3
days a week to stop a headache, or if you have a headache on more than 15 days
a month. Taking too much over-the-counter pain medicine can lead to more
headaches. These are called
One Man's Story:
"I hold my stress in my shoulders and neck. My shoulders
are always up around my ears. A lot of times, I leave at the end of the day
with a big headache."—Jerry
how Jerry reduced his stress.
Stress can cause tension
You can lower your stress with
positive thinking and relaxation methods. Try these techniques on your own or
with help from a therapist or counselor. Research shows that you can change how
you think. And how you think affects how you feel.
Learn how to lower your stress with these topics:
- Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Managing Your Time
- Reducing Stress by Being Assertive
- Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
- Doing Guided Imagery to Relax
- Doing Meditation
- Practicing Yoga to Relax
You also can learn to stop thinking all the
time about things that bother you.
- Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started
Seek help if you think that your tension
headaches may be linked to
anxiety. Treating these health problems can reduce how
often you get headaches.