We can put a man on the moon but we still can’t completely conquer one of mankind’s most irritating ailments (the headache medicine). Headaches are problematic for many folks of all ages, and the good news is that headache medicine has come a long way since the days when doctors would simply say “take two aspirin and call me in the morning”. Today’s new generation headache medicines are targeted to take on specific kinds of headaches and provide great, long-lasting results.
Headaches are thought to be brought on by the constriction and dilation of blood vessels (migraine headaches) or the contraction of muscles (tension headache), among other causes.
Headaches can also be caused by insufficient levels of serotonin in the central nervous system. Whatever the cause, having a headache is no fun, and for those who have chronic headaches, as is the case with migraine sufferers, headaches can become debilitating at times. Let’s look at the best headache medicines on the market and how they are changing the way that the world treats this common malady.
Headache Medicine Options
While it would appear to the casual observer that a new headache medicine option hits the market every other week, and there are many other types of headache medicines in the research and development stage, the fact is that there are truly some great headache medicines on the market right now – which is welcome news to the headache sufferer.
While your personal physician is your best guide to choosing the right headache medicine for your condition, there are many people who are confused as to whether the traditional medicines for headache are best, or if they should choose one of the new generation pain relievers that have been developed for headache.
The truth of the matter is that each type of headache medicine has different benefits for different types of headaches, as well as side effects that should be considered before treatment. Choosing a headache medicine with the advice of your doctor is easiest when you let your doctor know the answers to these questions:
- What area of the head hurts? Does your headache pain radiate from a particular origin or move from spot to spot?
- Can you take oral headache medicine without experiencing nausea or vomiting or other symptoms?
- Do you have other symptoms along with your headache that you feel need to be treated?
- Do your headaches come on rapidly, or gradually?
- How long does your current headache medicine combat the headache pain that you feel?
- How often do you experience headaches?
- What other medication are you taking?
- Do you have any known medical allergies that might contraindicate the use of certain headache medicines?
- Do you need a headache medicine that is non-drowsy or non-sedating?
- What time of day do you experience headaches?
- Does any particular activity seem to bring on headaches?
Truthfully answering these questions can allow your doctor to help you find the right headache medicine for your particular headache and lifestyle.
Treating headache pain is best accomplished when you take the appropriate headache medicine. The most common headache medicine types are:
Simple analgesic headache medicines. These are the traditional formulations that most people have in their home medicine cabinets or first aid kits, including Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, aspirin, and other well-known, over-the-counter (OTC) medications for headache. Most of the simple analgesic headache medicines contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Some combination analgesics (like Excedrin) contain a blend of caffeine and acetaminophen or aspirin.
Ergot headache medicines. Ergot drugs for treating headache are derived from the fungi that grow on rye and are most often used for throbbing headache pain that is commonly characteristic of migraine headaches.
Triptan headache medicines, like prescription Imitrex, Zomig, Maxalt, and others are prescribed for various headaches and work to relieve pain by targeting the central nervous system and neurotransmitters.
Narcotic analgesics. Narcotic medication or opioids combined with acetaminophen or aspirin are often used to treat the pain of headaches, although most doctors tend to shy away from prescribing these types of medicines unless other types prove ineffective – mainly because they can be habit forming.
Again, working with your doctor or other healthcare professional is the best approach to finding a treatment plan for headache, and a headache medicine, that works well for your particular condition.