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Graphic with title Ways to Alleviate a Headache (...and Pills Didn't Make the List) and a cartoon image of a man with brown skin and black hair with lightning bolts around his head to indicate headache pain.

Better Ways to Treat Your Headache [Infographic]

Ways to Find Relief

You've tried everything to find relief from your headache. Or have you?

Up to one in 20 adults suffer a headache every day. A migraine is a specific type of painful headache that affects more than 38 million people.

  • Migraines often cause throbbing pain on one side of your head and can be triggered by stress, hormonal changes, certain foods or changes in the weather. 
  • Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, often caused by stress or muscle tension.
  • Cluster headaches are rare, and they are characterized by severe sudden pain. Although their exact cause is unknown, they're named after their sudden attacks, often of recurrent headaches known as a cluster period.

Most people often turn to medication to find relief. Since it can provide temporary relief, it's easy to overuse medication, which can actually worsen headaches and cause a medication-overuse headache (MOH), or a rebound headache caused by too much medication in the system.

There are many preventive approaches to consider that are safe and effective for addressing headaches and that go to the root cause of the pain. "We spend a lot of time finding someone's triggers," says Northwestern Medicine Neurologist Katherine S. Carroll, MD. "Stress, which leads to muscle tension, is one of the most common triggers I see in patients."

The Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Headache Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital offers comprehensive care for both chronic and acute migraines and headaches. Dr. Carroll also adds that psychological support, which can address stress, also is important.

Here are some ways to alleviate your headache (and no, pills didn't make the list).

Infographic titled Ways to Alleviate a Headache shows a cartoon image of a man with brown skin and black hair with lightning bolts around his head to indicate pain, and list of treatments: Acupuncture, Chiropractic Care, Pain Injections, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy Download Better Ways to Treat Your Headache [Infographic]
Better Care for Headaches