How to Treat and Prevent Headaches

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Tension Headaches

These are the annoying, run-of-the-mill headaches that everyone gets from time to time and that are usually mild. Most people experience them occasionally, but tension-type headaches can occur daily.

What causes them: Stress, poor posture, working with your head or neck in an unnatural position for long stretches of time, eyestrain, a noisy environment (or too-bright lighting), or skipping a meal. Underlying anxiety or depression may lead to chronic tension headaches.

What they feel like: A dull pressing or tightening ache in the forehead, temples, back of the head and neck. The pain is steady rather than throbbing and on both sides of the head.

Treatment options: Aspirin or other over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Triptans, a class of migraine medication, can ease severe tension headaches, suggesting there may be a biological connection between these two headache types. Doctors may sometimes prescribe barbiturates such as Fioricet to treat tension headaches that are particularly severe.

Preventive measures: Get enough sleep, don't skip meals, and exercise regularly to diffuse stress. Frequent tension headaches may be prevented with the same drugs used to ward off migraines.

Continued on page 3:  Migraines


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