Headache treatment (3037)

Key points below

How are headaches treated?Child taking medicine with father's help

What medicines are used?

There are two ways to use medicines for headaches.

  1. Treating pain. This is used when the headache first starts so it will get better. Many people do this for headaches that only happen once in a while. Medicine may be bought over-the-counter. This includes acetaminophen which is Tylenol( and ibuprofen which is Motrin® or Advil®. It is important not to use these medicines too often. This can cause another kind of headache called a medicine overuse headache.
  2. Preventing pain. If your child has frequent or severe headaches, this kind of medicine may be needed daily. If this medicine works, the headaches will happen less often and won’t be as bad. There are many kinds of medicines that can be used to prevent headaches. Your child’s health care provider will help you find the right medicine at the right dose. It will depend on your child’s age and weight.

Are lifestyle changes important?

Your child’s health care provider will want to know about your child’s lifestyle. This includes diet, fluid intake, sleep, exercise, stress and coping methods. Some changes may be helpful in treating the headaches. To have a healthy lifestyle your child should:

Fluids chart

 Weight in Pounds  Fluids per day**  Weight in Pounds  Fluids per day**
 10 Pounds  16 ounces (2 cups)  80 pounds  61 ounces (7 ½ cups)
 20 Pounds  30 ounces (3-3/4 cups)  100 pounds 67 ounces (8 ¼ cups)
 30 Pounds  40 ounces (5 cups)  120 pounds  73 ounces (9 cups)
 40 Pounds  48 ounces (6 cups)  140 pounds  79 ounces (10 cups)
 50 Pounds  52 ounces (6 ½ cups)  140 pounds  79 ounces (10 cups)
 60 Pounds  55 ounces (7 cups)  
 **Unless your child is on a fluid restriction

What are some other ways to treat headaches?

At the start of a headache have your child:

Your child’s health care provider may also talk to you about biofeedback or behavioral therapy. If depression or anxiety is a concern, treatment from a mental health provider may be helpful.

Where else can I get information?

National Headache Foundation

(800) 643-5552


National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


American Council for Headache Education (ACHE)

(800) 255-2343




ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if:

For other health and wellness information, check out this resource:


This sheet was created to help you care for your child or family member. It does not take the place of medical care. Talk with your healthcare provider for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.