Chronic Tension Headache – and how to treat it
Chronic Tension Headaches and Migraines are a painful and debilitating condition that affects a significant minority of the population. In many cases, these can be somewhat successfully treated with commonly available over the counter medications like acetaminophen, naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen. However, these analgesics are not completely effective for some users, while others find that they don’t tolerate them well, due to the sensitivity or a pre-existing medical condition that some of these analgesics can aggravate. For instance, people with sensitive digestive systems and gastric issues often don’t tolerate acetaminophen that well. And even those people who are otherwise healthy are not recommended to take iboprofen regularly for longer than three weeks, since larger dosages and prolonged exposure to the drug can cause liver and stomach damage.
Often, prescription drugs like Butalbital are really the only option left. Other prescription alternatives to Butalbital include indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan), and ketorolac tromethamine (Trodol). All of these drugs are considered NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs), and some people might experience certain side effects when using them as a treatment for chronic migraines and tension headaches. Most common side effects of prescription NSAIDs include diarrhea, nausea or constipation, ulcers and stomach pain or bleeding. Most doctors recommend that you always take non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs with milk or after a meal, since that can somewhat reduce the side effects.
Another way to treat tension headaches is with the use of opioids like flurbiprofen (Ansaid), fenoprofen (Nalfon) and morphine and meperidine. All of these drugs are controlled and only available with a prescription, since prolonged usage of them can result in a development of a dependency or an addiction. To make sure that this does not happen to you, always make sure that you only use opioids according to the doctor’s instructions.
Other alternatives to the prescription opioids and other drugs listed above include anti emetics (prochlorperazine), ergots (dihydroergotamine and ergotamine), and butalbital, Fioricet and other sedatives and barbiturates. The latter group of medications (barbiturates), especially Butalbital has been showing a lot of promise, and can be a very effective way to treat migraines, chronic headaches and other tension caused headaches. Butalbital can also be used in the combination with other drugs, and one specific brand name drug that utilizes a butalbital based formulation is called Fioricet. Butalbital’s effectiveness in treatment of chronic tension headaches can be attributed to it’s relaxing properties, both on the Central Nervous Systems and muscles. Other muscle relaxants that your doctor may consider prescribing you include Soma and Flexeril. Although these drugs don’t cause relaxation to the actual skeletal muscles, they do have an pain relieving effect, both as analgesic and through affecting the brain’s neurochemistry that transmits pain signals in the affected area.
We mentioned that Butalbital is often used in a combination with other drugs. When used this way, Butalbital sedating and muscle relaxing properties are further complimented and enhanced by other drugs present in the formulation. The most popular drug that utilizes this combination approach is certainly Fioricet – it combines Butalbital, Caffeine and Acetaminophen in one pill.