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November 25, 2020 09:00pm
By Sara Karlovitch, Assistant Editor
There are many OTC products to keep families healthy.
Everyone experiences a headache now and then. Headaches are a common cause of pain and one of the most frequent reasons for absences from work and school. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 47% of individuals experience a headache at least once a year. Headaches are commonly categorized as primary or secondary. Primary headaches account for approximately 90% of headaches and are not related to an underlying illness. Examples include tension headaches, cluster headaches, migraine headaches, and medication overuse headaches (also known as rebound headaches). Secondary headaches result from an underlying condition such as head trauma, stroke, or viral and bacterial infection. Patients experiencing chronic headaches and secondary headaches should always be referred to their primary health care provider for further medical evaluation and treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
Although the signs and symptoms of headache may vary from person to person, they often include the following:
The causes or triggers of headache vary in each individual, but the following factors are often considered causative:
Tests and Diagnosis
Although most headaches are mild and easily managed with self-treatment, individuals who experience chronic and/or secondary headaches should seek medical care to determine the cause. Your doctor will review your medical history, medication profile, and symptoms as well as conduct a physical and neurologic examination. Other tests may be ordered to rule out other medical conditions.
You can often prevent headaches by:
Headaches can be managed effectively in several ways:
Treatment and Care
Treatment for a headache depends on the severity, the symptoms, and the cause of the headache. Treatment may include the use of OTC or prescription analgesics. Your doctor will determine the best treatment to suit your individual needs.
Homeopathic and Alternative Remedies
Many patients who experience headaches rely on alternative forms of treatment, including herbal remedies and homeopathic medicine. Alternative remedies may include the following:
To prevent harmful drug interactions or contraindications, it is very important to check with a pharmacist or physician before taking any supplements.
A host of OTC products can provide relief from headache pain, including acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These medications should be taken as directed because overuse may actually cause a type of headache known as a rebound headache or medication overuse headache. To prevent drug interactionsor adverse reactions, it is important to discuss the use of these products with a doctor or pharmacist before using them. A pharmacist can counsel you regarding the proper use of these products and can provide advice or recommendations based on your preferences and symptoms.