Font Size
A
A
A

Headaches (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Most of the time headaches get better or go away with home treatment and do not require a visit to a doctor. Home treatment for headaches can often help reduce the severity of pain and the length of time the pain is present. Home treatment may also relieve other symptoms, such as fever, nausea or vomiting, anxiety, or muscle aches. Start home treatment as soon as you can. Be sure to review the home treatment information for any other symptoms you may have.

If your doctor has prescribed a specific treatment for your headaches, begin treatment as soon as a headache starts. Be sure to follow his or her instructions when taking any prescription medicine for your headache.

For mild pain without other symptoms, try the following:

  • Rest in a quiet, dark room.
  • Place a cool compress on your forehead.
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

You may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches by trying:

  • Relaxation exercises. These exercises can help take away tension and stress that cause headaches or make them worse. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
  • Heat, such as hot water bottles, heating pads, or hot baths, to relax tense muscles. Be careful not to burn yourself.
  • Ice, such as an ice pack applied to the back or the neck or the temples.
  • Massage therapy and biofeedback, which can reduce muscle tension, especially in your neck and shoulder muscles. Muscle tension can cause headaches or make them worse. For more information, see the topic Complementary Medicine.

When your child has headaches:

  • Talk to your child. Let him or her know you care. Extra attention and quiet time may be all that is needed to relieve the pain.
  • If your child's doctor has prescribed a specific treatment for his or her headaches, begin treatment as soon as your child complains of the pain.
  • Let your child rest quietly in a darkened room with a cool compress on his or her forehead.
  • If your child's headache pain is mild, encourage him or her to go on with normal activities.
  • Let your child do his or her usual activities if he or she feels like it unless the headache pain is moderate to severe.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your child's headache:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to treat a fever. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Give, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended doses.
  • Do not give your child a medicine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless directed to do so by your child's doctor.
  • Do not give naproxen (such as Aleve) to children younger than age 12 unless your child's doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Pain increases or lasts for longer than 12 hours despite the use of home treatment.
  • New symptoms develop.
  • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
Next Page:

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.






Medical Dictionary