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Headache Pain Pills – Drugs for Headache Pain Relief

 Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on April 18, 2022
Pain relievers are typically the first drugs recommended by doctors for migraine and headaches. Many of these medications are over-the-counter, or available without a doctor’s prescription, while other headache drugs require a prescription. Headache Pain Pills

Note: if symptomatic relief medications are used more than twice a week, you should see your doctor, who may prescribe preventive headache medications. Overuse of symptomatic medications can actually cause more frequent headaches or worsen headache symptoms.
Drugs for relief of migraine or headache symptoms include:
Generic NameBrand NameUsePossible Side Effects
AcetaminophenPanadolTylenolPain reliefHeadache treatmentFew side effects if taken as directed, although they may include: changes in blood counts and liver damage
AspirinBayerBufferinPain reliefHeadache treatmentHeartburn, gastrointestinal bleeding, bronchospasm or constriction that causes narrowing of the airways, anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction), ulcers
FenoprofenNalfonPrevention of tension headaches; migraines; hormone headachesNausea, diarrheaindigestiondizziness, drowsiness
FlurbiprofenOcufenPrevention of tension headaches; migraines. Treatment of tension headachemigrainesGastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, dizziness, vision problems, ulcers
IbuprofenAdvilMotrin IBTreatment of tension headachemigrainesGastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomitingrashliver damage
KetoprofenActronPrevention of tension headaches; migraines. Treatment of migrainesGastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, rash, liver damage
NabumetonePrevention of tension headaches; migrainesConstipationheartburn, diarrheal, nausea, vomiting
NaproxenAlevePrevention of tension headaches; hormone headaches. Treatment of migrainesGastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, rash, liver damage
DiclofenacCambiaCataflam,ZipsorZorvolexTreatment of tension headache; migrainesStomach upset, bloating, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of appetite
KetorolacTreatment of tension headacheGastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, dizziness, vision problems, ulcers
MeclofenamateTreatment of tension headacheNausea, diarrheal, indigestion, dizziness, drowsiness
CarisoprodolSomaTreatment of tension headacheDizziness, drowsiness, nausea, headache, nervousness, skin rash, bleeding
Orphenadrine citrateTreatment of tension headacheDrowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness, blurred vision
MethocarbamolRobaxinTreatment of tension headacheDizziness, drowsiness, nausea, darkening of urine
Cyclobenzaprine HCLAmrixTreatment of tension headacheDry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness
MetaxaloneSkelaxinTreatment of tension headacheDrowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness

Tips for Using Over-the-Counter Headache Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers have been demonstrated to be safe when used as directed. But keep the following precautions in mind:
  • Know the active ingredients in each product. Be sure to read the entire label.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dosage on the package.
  • Carefully consider how you use pain relievers and all medications. It is easy to over-medicate yourself.
  • Check with your doctor before taking products containing aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)  if: you have a bleeding problem; asthma; recently had surgery or dental surgery or are about to have surgery; have ulcers, kidney or liver disorders; or take any other blood thinners.
  • Check with your doctor before taking acetaminophen if you have kidney or liver problems. Headache Pain Pills

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