Medications can both prevent headaches and relieve the symptoms associated with them. Your doctor may prescribe medication if any of the following is true:

  • Nonprescription pain relievers do not stop your symptoms.
  • Your headaches are severe.
  • Your headaches interfere with your normal activities.
  • You have at least 3 headaches a month.
  • You have developed rebound, or medication-induced, headaches.

While your doctor can suggest medications, the decision to use them is up to you. Your doctor's goal will be to choose a drug that lets you take the least amount with the fewest possible side effects.

Before you take any new medication, you need to give your doctor specific information about yourself and your experiences with medications. You also need to get specific information from your doctor about the drug you're going to take. This helps ensure that you're able to use the medications safely.

If you decide to take a medication, take it only as directed and discuss your experience while taking it with your doctor. Finding the right one might take some time. Your doctor will choose a medicine based on your headache type. For a lot of reasons, though, medications don't always work the same way for everyone. So taking a drug that doesn't have the desired effect doesn't mean no medication will work.

If you take a medication that doesn't seem to be working for you, tell your doctor right away. There are numerous options to choose from to find the right medicine.