Headache management


Pain is a perception and the treatment should be individualised according to the patients’ need. Pain is subjective and different people might experience same pain differently. That is why, it is measured most commonly by a visual analogue scale that measures it subjectively on a scale of 0 -10 with 0 meaning no pain and 10 means the most severe pain that the person has experienced in life.


Headache should also be differentiated into mild, moderate and severe. Also whenever possible, a headache diary should be maintained that will help in measuring the severity, intensity, frequency and nature of our headaches, It will also help in noticing headache’s trigger factors and will educate patients and doctors more about the illness.

Again, etiology of headache will be the prime factor in determining its treatment.

Tension Type Headache, Migraine, type of migraine, Cluster headache, Trigeminal neuralgia or any other type of headache will have different modes of treatment.


But few basic tips might help you in most type of headaches:

Tension Type Headaches and Migraine have their triggers that are individual specific so finding those triggers and avoiding them will help prevent those headaches.

Carry your prescribed analgesics in your bag. And taking the analgesics as soon as possible after the onset of headache episode makes that headache episode easy to handle.

Keeping the painkillers as is needed is important as the overuse of the pain killers may lead to Medication overuse headache, which are kind of rebound headaches that occur as soon as the effect of the painkillers ends in a patient who is addicted to pain killers. May we call it painkiller addiction and headache may be called as pain killer withdrawal headaches….

Instead of going to the highest potency painkillers, patients should start with the simplest painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprufen, which are safer than the other higher level/ potency painkillers.

Eating regular meals, taking a good night sleep and keeping the stress at bay either psychological or physical is another mantra that will decrease patient’s headaches. There are other non- pharmacological methods that may help in alleviating the headaches if done regularly. These are:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mental imagery relaxation (also called guided imagery
  • Biofeedback
  • Relaxation to music
  • Counseling/cognitive therapy (to help patients recognize and relieve stress)
  • Alternative therapies, including physical therapy, massage, hypnosis, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture/acupressure, aromatherapy, and herbal therapy


Though this is just a gist of how the headache should be managed, these simple tips can decrease the headache intensity and frequency, making the problem more manageable.

Author: Dr. Sweta Singla

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