When you have a tough headache, just getting through the day can be challenging. An OTC pain reliever may help if you choose one that’s right for you based on your age, health conditions, and medications you take. Always read the label, and never take more than directed or for longer than directed. There are other steps you can consider instead of or in addition to medicine that can help relieve headache pain.

Tips for headache relief

Triggers that can cause headaches can range from muscle tension, to anxiety, to lack of sleep. Here are some tips that may help you prevent or find relief from headache pain:

Relieve your headache with a hot shower

Take a hot shower or use a heating pad

Warm water and heating pads are simple headache remedies that can help soothe sore muscles and reduce stress.

Relieve your headache with fresh air

Enjoy a breath of fresh air

Taking a brisk walk or exercising can help you relax mentally and physically.

Relieve your headache with relaxation techniques

Practice relaxation techniques

Something as simple as deep breathing can release tension and anxiety.

Relieve your headache with sleep

Give yourself the gifts of rest and good sleep

Practice taking breaks at work and get a good night’s sleep every night.

Avoid headache triggers

Be good to yourself: avoid your headache triggers

Loud noises? Certain foods? Fatigue? Understand what your triggers are and do your best to avoid them.

Get your pain reliever dose right. Why?

If you take more medicine than the label says, you may increase your chance of serious side effects. To use OTC pain relievers safely:

  • Take the dose directed on the label

  • Wait the right amount of time between doses

  • Don’t take more than the daily limit

  • If your pain lasts for more than 10 days, stop taking the medicine and see your healthcare professional. It’s possible that the problem may need more attention, or a different treatment approach may be needed

Dosing directions for acetaminophen and NSAIDs—all in one place