When a headache does occur, there are a few simple steps to take that may provide fast relief.

Act quickly. The earlier treatment for a headache is begun, the less severe the headache will likely become.

Rest, relax, and minimize external stimuli. Lying down in a dark and quiet environment can allow the brain and muscles of the neck, face, and scalp to relax and recover.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are a safe and effective choice, when used as directed to treat most headaches, other than migraine and cluster headaches. When using these medications, it is important to use the least amount of medicine necessary. In general, use of the recommended dose of a medicine early in a headache will minimize the amount and type of medication that is needed.

It is important to know what the active ingredient or ingredients are in your medications. Be careful with combination drugs. Sometimes, the same drug can be found in more than one pill. Always pay attention to the instructions on a medication's label and check with your doctor or health care professional if you have any questions or concerns.

Prescription medicines for headaches are an appropriate choice when over-the-counter medicines fail to relieve the headache or OTC use is more frequent than twice a week.