Even though conditions such as migraines, tension and cluster headaches have become fairly common, the changes accompanying them, and biological in origin, are yet to be fully comprehended and made known. But numerous studies and researches done on this subject, revealed that some of the factors which are most common “meddlers”. The first on the list are changes in neurotransmitters, most of all in serotonin levels. Lack or excess in this neurotransmitter results in headaches, mostly chronic in nature. Next are inflammations which occur in the vicinity of our blood vessels and nerves situated in our head. Muscle tension which, even though it contributes to headaches, is rarely the main culprit,and is also on the list.
Medications employed in headache treatment are supposed to aid in the following: providing stability to blood vessels, reducing muscle tension, limiting and stopping inflammations, mimicking serotonin effects. Medications, as such, do not provide a lot of help in treating headaches and similar conditions, but the fact remains that they are most effective if we combine them with certain other therapies involving appropriate diet, proper sleep, plenty of exercise and stress management.
The following medications give particularly good results when treating various types of headaches: corticosteroids, which decrease inflammation in the area around blood vessels when headache occurs; antihistamines, which relieve intense pain, diminish nausea, prevent unwanted side effects of other medications; abortive medicines, which have the potential to prevent, reverse or ameliorate an occurring or headache that has just begun. Muscle relaxants release the tension in muscles and blocks body’s sense of pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications reduce inflammation and pain, and triptans imitate serotonin and restore the proper size of blood vessels, which is why all of them can be used in treating headaches.
For treating the more intensive cluster headaches abortive drugs are used as well. Most of all anesthetics (liquid cocaine and lidocaine which prevent nerves to send pain signals) and oxygen (inhaling additional oxygen can initiate changes in our blood vessels which can bring headache attacks to a halt).
Aside from these drugs, effective are also preventive ones. They are known to reduce the occurrence rate, seriousness and duration of headaches. People who are especially in need of them are those who experience more than 3 headaches in the course of the month, those whom these medications don’t provide consistent relief and those who are practically paralyzed when under the headache.
Another very important fact is that preventive medications can add up to the overall effectiveness of the abortive medications. Also it should be always kept in mind that almost all medications which are employed in treating headaches, can be used for treating conditions similar in nature.