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Headache medication

Most people have headaches occasionally. They can happen without any obvious cause or they may be caused by a health problem.

Most headaches are not serious. You can treat them yourself.

Understanding headaches

There are many different types of headache. Some can affect anybody, like tension headaches. Some affect only certain people, like migraines.

There is plenty you can do to prevent headaches.

You can try to keep stress under control. You can try to make time to relax. You can do exercises and stretches to ease tension. You can try to get enough sleep. You can wear sunglasses on bright days, drink plenty of water and not drink too much alcohol.

You can also try medicines.

Types of headaches medicines

You can buy most medicines for headaches without a doctor’s prescription. These include pain relief medicines such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen.

If you take pain relief medicines, it is important that you understand how to use them safely. For instance, you may already be taking pain relief medicines in your cough and cold remedies or medicines for arthritis.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist so you don’t accidentally take more than you should.

If you have migraines, there are particular medicines or combination medicines that can help. See your doctor.

Important information about headache medication

If you have a lot of headaches or have symptoms that worry you see your doctor.

You should also see your doctor if you have migraines. It’s good to work out how to keep them away, if you can, and how to make them less severe.

If you are worried about taking medicines for your headache, ask your doctor or pharmacist about:

  • the benefits of medicine for headache
  • the risks of different types of medicine for headache.

Your doctor or pharmacist will help you decide which medicines are suitable.

Looking for more medicine information?

healthdirect’s medicines section allows you to search for medicines by brand name or active ingredient. It provides useful information about medicines such as their use, whether they are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and product recalls.



Last reviewed: February 2016

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