Health Topics

How Are Headaches Treated?

How Are Headaches Treated?

Your family physician may recommend different types of treatment to try, he or she may recommend further testing or refer you to a headache specialist. You should establish a reasonable time frame with your family physician to evaluate your headache symptoms.

Headache Treatment Options

The proper treatment will depend on several factors, including the type and frequency of the headache and its cause. Not all headaches require medical attention. Treatment may include:

  • education
  • counseling
  • stress management
  • biofeedback
  • medications

The treatment prescribed for you will be tailored to meet your specific needs.

Headache Education

  • Headache education includes identifying and recording what triggers your headache, such as lack of sleep, not eating at regular times, eating certain foods or additives, caffeine, environment or stress. Avoiding headache triggers is an important step in successfully treating the headaches.


  • Counseling in the form of one-on-one sessions, group therapy or support groups can help you identify your headache triggers and teach you useful coping techniques.

Stress Management

  • Stress management: to successfully treat headaches, it is important for you to identify what causes or triggers the headaches. Then you can learn ways to cope or remove the stressful activities or events. Relaxation techniques are helpful in managing stress and include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery relaxation or relaxation to music. Ask your health care provider for more information about these techniques.


  • Biofeedback: biofeedback equipment includes sensors connected to your body to monitor your involuntary physical responses to headaches, such as breathing, pulse, heart rate, temperature, muscle tension, and brain activity. By learning to recognize these physical reactions and how the body responds in stressful situations, biofeedback can help you learn how to release and control tension that causes headaches.


  • Medications: There are three types of headache medications, including symptomatic relief, abortive and preventive medications.

What Happens After I Start Treatment?

When your doctor starts a treatment program, keep track of the results and how the treatment program is working. Keep your scheduled follow-up appointments so your doctor can monitor your progress and make changes in the treatment program as needed.