What is the Best Tension Headache Relief?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Migraines and tension headaches are something that just about everyone deals with at one time or another. These stress headaches can come on suddenly and linger for hours if not treated promptly. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can be used to achieve tension headache relief, and allow the individual to proceed through the day without dealing with constant head pain.

One of the most effective tools in achieving tension headache relief is over the counter analgesic medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen are often just enough to help sufferers get past a stress headache. For people who require something stronger, a prescription NSAID like naproxen or ketorlac may be required.

Acetaminophen is another example of an analgesic that can help with tension headache relief. While not considered a first line of defense, this particular analgesic may be helpful if the individual cannot take aspirin for some reason. Since there is some risk in using acetaminophen too often, it is a good idea to discontinue use after a day or two if there is no real relief, and ask a physician for recommendations on how to proceed.


There are situations in which combination medicines may be necessary to achieve tension headache relief. Depending on the severity of the headaches, a physician may recommend a combination of an over the counter drug with a prescription product. For example, a doctor may determine that aspirin should be combined with the use of some sort of sedative, effectively easing the pain while also helping the individual to relax and thus be less likely to experience another headache in the short-term. There are also over the counter medications that combine aspirin, acetaminophen and a small amount of caffeine, a combination that can often treat tension headaches successfully.

When measures of this type do not seem to alleviate the headaches, there may be an underlying physical or emotional issue that is triggering the recurring pain. If this is the case, the physician may recommend the use of an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication as a means of dealing with the frequency and severity of the headaches. Often, counseling may also be effective in identifying and dealing with emotional issues that are causing stress and thus triggering the headaches. For anyone who finds that over the counter methods do not provide effective tension headache relief, working with a doctor to identify the root cause or causes for the pain is essential to banishing the headaches and getting back to enjoying life.


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Post 4

For me there is a difference between a tension headache and a migraine headache. I get tension headaches quite often, but can still function and get done what I need to.

If I get a migraine, I end up in bed for a couple of days. I have a prescription medication that I take at the first sign of a migraine. For me, this is when the room starts spinning around and I feel dizzy.

As far as my tension headaches, they respond best to a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine. There is something about the caffeine that gets rid of my tension headache much faster than taking something without it.

Post 3

@julies-- Have you ever tried chiropractic treatments or acupuncture for your chronic headaches?

I also got tired of taking something that was hard on my stomach, kidneys or liver for my headaches. Fortunately my insurance plan will cover visits to the chiropractor, and this has made a big difference for me.

My chiropractor also does acupuncture to treat headaches. At first I was a little hesitant about this, but it isn't all that bad, and the relief is worth it.

I have found that if I stay consistent with this and go every 4 weeks, I am able to keep my headaches under control without using medication.

Post 2

Is there a safe treatment for chronic tension headaches? So many of the recommended medications have negative long-term side effects.

How do you find something that treats your headaches without being so hard on the rest of your body?

Post 1

I am a person who understands all too well what a tension headache feels like. If I let mine get out of control, they turn into a migraine. When they get this bad, the only thing that helps is resting.

I have to be in a dark room with no light or sound. I am usually sick to my stomach as well, and even the thought or smell of food makes it worse.

I have tried several different kinds of headache pain relief, but when they get really bad, the best thing I can do is sleep them off.

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