Pain Killers and Headache

A detailed discussion of headache treatment is beyond the scope of this presentation. Acute therapy with medication usually begins with one of the "pain killers". For the milder headaches, the simplest medication is the best and one of the basic analgesics such as acetaminophen, known under the trade name of Tylenol, is recommended.

This basic analgesic is safe in most people but occasionally interferes with liver function. Patients with liver problems due to hepatitis, or who drink alcohol heavily, should use this medication cautiously or seek an alternative. Overdose can have serious consequences and care should be taken to prevent accidents in children.

Children and young persons under the age of 19 years should not be given aspirin because of a link to the rare but serious disorder Reye's syndrome.

Combination Products
The combination analgesics include two or more active ingredients. Examples are Tylenol #1, Tylenol #2 or 222's. These can be used occasionally for stronger headaches. They contain a mixture of acetaminophen or A.S.A., Codeine or caffeine.

Most headache experts try to stay away from the combination products with more complex formulations. Experience shows that these medicines may have a greater tendency to produce dependency or addiction or even worsen headaches in the long run.