Susan Broner, M.D., a Neurologist with St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, says patients with occasional mild to moderate types of headache may benefit from acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, these are short-acting medications whose effects last only a few hours. If longer pain relief is needed, choose naproxen sodium, which lasts up to 12 hours.
Patients should be careful to avoid taking too much medication for headache pain, because that can lead to the development of a rebound headache. People who have migraine symptoms or those with recurring or more severe symptoms should seek advice from a physician to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
A physician may have the patient keep a headache diary, in which a patient keeps a record of headache symptoms and potential triggers (like menstrual cycle, sleep and foods). If certain things are associated with the headache, patients may be advised to avoid those triggers. Some patients may require prescription treatments for their headaches.
If headaches continue to persist, or if the pain is unusual or severe, the symptoms should be reported to a physician because these may be signs of a more serious underlying medical problem, like meningitis or stroke.