ZocdocAnswersWhy don't any over the counter painkillers not work for my headaches?

Question

Why don't any over the counter painkillers not work for my headaches?

I am a 20 year old single mother with a history of chronic headaches, possibly migraines. They are extremely painful and are usually focused in the temporal areas and sometimes the back of my head; they can last from 20 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer than that. I've tried a lot of over the counter painkillers and also prescription ibuprofen. I'm taking Welbeutrin and Sprintec.

Answer

There are two types of headaches which are very common, and need to be distinguished so that the appropriate treatment can be taken. Migraine headaches are typically one sided and have a throbbing nature to them. People with migraines also report sensitivity to light and feel better in the dark. The headaches are sometimes preceded by flashing lights or other visual symptoms. Tension headaches can also be located on the temples but usually both sides. The headache can begin in the back of the head and move over the top of the head. The description you are giving sounds a bit more like tension headaches than migraines. I think your next best move is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can listen to your description of the headaches and perform a comprehensive neurological exam. This will help insure that no other cause of headaches are present. Finally you can discuss treatment. It is possible that you are not taking the appropriate doses of these medications. If you are having migraine headaches, then it is possible that you need specialized medications that act specifically to reduce migraines. If you are having tension headaches, there are stretching exercises that can help loosen your neck muscles and prevent them from happening.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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