How might my headache be treated?

Intermountain Healthcare
Here are some tips on how you can treat your headache:
  • Rest in a dark, quiet room with your eyes closed. Ask people to leave you alone while you rest.
  • Try over-the-counter pain medicine. Over-the-counter pain medicine is medicine you can buy at the pharmacy or grocery store. Talk with your doctor about the best choice for you. Examples are acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil). Follow the instructions for timing and dose. Do not give aspirin to a child or teen -- it increases risk for a serious problem called Reye's syndrome.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, follow instructions carefully. Talk with your doctor if you have questions.
  • Rub (massage) the muscles in your shoulder and in the back of your neck. This may help loosen tight muscles and help your headache go away. Do not use massage if you have tingling or weakness in your arms or legs.
  • Try using heat or cold. Take a warm bath or shower. Or, put a cold or warm washcloth over the part that hurts. Do this for 15 to 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. This may relax the muscles.
Marilene B. Wang, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
There are many different causes of headaches, including stress and tension, migraines, sinus infections and dental infections. It's important to determine the cause of the headache so that proper treatment can be instituted. If you are having infections in the sinus that are resulting in headaches, you may be treated with medications or occasionally surgery. If the headache is from another cause, you should see your doctor to determine the cause and treat it appropriately. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Some foods, scents, hair accessories can alleviate headaches. Learn more about headache triggers -- and treatments -- in this video by Dr. Oz.

Depending on the type of headache you have, you may want to start with taking over the counter pain relievers to see if they are effective. You may also want to try relaxation technics, drinking a glass of water, or deep breathing. Ultimately, if the headaches persist and occur frequently you need to see a specialist who may recommend starting a preventative medication. There are also some life style changes, which you can implement, such as regular physical exercise, lower caffeine use, increase water intake, regular meals and avoid sleep deprivation.


There are many self-care approaches, and the success achieved in reducing or alleviating headache pain with these approaches varies among individuals. Simple approaches include sitting down, lying down, closing and resting the eyes, resting in a darkened room, or sleeping. Some people find relief through deep breathing, relaxation exercises, meditation, or applying hot or cold compresses to the forehead. Stretching exercises, relaxing the head and face, and massaging the neck may relieve pain.

Some migraine sufferers have identified triggers that are likely to set off headache attacks. Identifying and avoiding triggers is one of the most effective preventive approaches for decreasing the frequency and severity of headaches. For long-term prevention, certain dietary changes may be helpful as well.

When people must function in spite of headache pain, a single dose of analgesic medication—aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil)—may offer quick relief.

Continue Learning about Headache



Throbbing, pulsating and pain in the head are all symptoms of a headache. Varieties of headaches such as migraines, tension headaches, sinus headaches and menstrual headaches can halt your daily activities. But, you can learn what ...

to watch for, and what to do, so you'll be ready to stop a headache before it stops you.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.