Tension Headache - Treatment

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What is the treatment for tension headache?

Many people treat tension headache on their own, using over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), or combination medications containing acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin). While these medications can be effective and when taken as directed are safe for most people, overuse can lead to headaches which are more frequent and severe. This can occur if these agents are used more than 2 days each week routinely. If tension headache occurs during pregnancy, the patient should contact her physician about medications that are safe to use. Products which contain aspirin should not be given to children due to the risk of Reye's syndrome. Use of acetaminophen in large amounts may lead to liver toxicity.

For people who experience recurrent tension headache, stress management techniques have been an effective way of helping to decrease headache frequency and severity. This can include regular exercise, deep breathing techniques, and relaxation training. Other non-medicinal approaches can include massage therapy, heat, ice, or acupuncture. Learning to identify stressful situations which trigger headache and taking steps to avoid these is also a useful strategy for many individuals.

If a diagnosis of chronic tension headache is made or suspected, prescription medications may be used in an effort to lessen the frequency and decrease the severity of the headaches. Medications used include antidepressants and antiseizure agents; a physician can help determine which agent is best for a patient.

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Comment from: Sue, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

Psychiatric medications Cymbalta, Lamictal and an anti-depressant, Lexapro or Prozac work for my tension headaches.

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