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Request headache treatment from our trusted, board-certified online doctors and get relief from pain and discomfort today. Get a new prescription or refill to treat headaches from a top-rated primary care doctor online.*

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*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot diagnose or treat all cases of headaches. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately by calling 911

Learn about headaches

Headaches are the most common pain conditions experienced by adults. A headache pain represents pain in any parts of the head and upper neck.

There are many types of headaches, and they can be categorized into two groups: primary and secondary headaches.

  • Primary headaches are not related to any other medical conditions. Some examples are migraine headaches, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.

  • Secondary headaches are related to some medical conditions. Examples may include sinus congestion, trauma (head injury), tumor, infection, and high blood pressure.

Headache causes

The causes of primary headaches and secondary headaches are different and are explained in more detail below.

  • Primary headaches

    Primary headaches are not related to any other specific medical conditions. These headache symptoms cause pain that comes from the interacting signals between the brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves. Some triggers can cause muscle tension in the head, which can range from mild discomfort to severe headaches. Some common triggers are:

    • Stress

    • Changes in sleep pattern or insomnia 

    • Alcohol

    • Certain foods 

  • Secondary headaches

    Secondary headaches are related to some medical conditions; as a result, the causes are typically due to the medical condition. Some examples of medical conditions related to headaches include:

    • Acute sinusitis

    • Brain aneurysm

    • Concussion

    • Dehydration

    • Ear infection

    • Flu

    • Hypertension

    • Panic disorder

    • Stroke

    • Tumor

Headache symptoms

Depending on the type of headache you have, the symptoms can vary.

However, in general, the main symptom common to all headaches is a pain in any part of the head. A headache can be a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache. Headaches can develop gradually or suddenly, and may last from less than an hour to several days. A few common headache pain are discussed below.

  • Tension-type headaches

    Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. These tension-type headaches can be chronic tension-type headaches or occasional tension-type headaches. Tension headache pains are typically:

    • Mild to moderate in severity

    • Consistent but without the throbbing pain

    • On both sides of the head

    • Typically alleviated by over-the-counter medications

  • Cluster headaches

    Cluster headaches are a form of primary headache and one of the most severe headaches. As the name suggests, these headaches come in cluster periods, which typically last for several weeks to months. During these cluster periods, cluster headaches occur frequently, typically in the middle of the night. Common symptoms are:

    • Pain that strikes suddenly with intense pain usually around or behind an eye

    • Persistent pain only on one side of the head (does not shift sides)

    • Red eye, tearing and/or swelling around the eye on the affected side

  • Migraine headaches

    According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine headaches affect at least 39 million Americans and are a common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches are neurological disorders with different symptoms. Common symptoms may include:

    • Moderate to severe headaches

    • One-sided or both sided pain

    • Nausea and/or vomit

    • Sensitivity to light and noise

    • Lasts for hours to days

  • Sinus headaches

    Sinus headaches are due to sinus infections. The sinus infection causes inflammation, swelling and congestion in the sinuses. Sinus headaches can often be confused with migraines. Common symptoms are:

    • Fever

    • Severe and persistent pain in cheekbones and forehead

    • Facial swelling

    • Nasal discharge

  • Medication overuse headaches

    Medication overuse headaches, also known as rebound headaches, come about due to frequent intake of headache pain relievers. Common symptoms of medication overuse headache are:

    • Increase in headache frequencies

    • Worse pain in the morning hours than other parts of the day

How to treat headaches

The type of headache and the factors that trigger headaches determine the method used in treating headaches. There are medicinal and non-medicinal methods for headache relief and reduction of headache frequency.

Medicinal approaches involve taking pain medications such as over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs. Preventive medications can also be taken to prevent headaches and migraines.

Non-medicinal approaches may involve preventive treatment methods such as behavioral therapy that can relieve stress.

Medication for headaches

  • Over-the-counter medications

    Below are some over-the-counter pain relievers that you can get for relieving symptoms:


    ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)

    Aleve (naproxen)
  • Prescription medications

    When a generic pain reliever is not enough for pain management, you can talk to your doctor and request a prescription medication for migraine symptoms. Examples of related medications include:

  • There are also prescription medications available to prevent migraines, such as:

How to prevent headaches

To prevent headaches, first know the type of headache that is affecting you. Then, identify the factors that trigger headaches. Below are a few non-medicinal techniques to help prevent headaches and reduce headache frequency:

  • Behavioral therapy: Working with a mental health professional can help to identify triggers and develop techniques to relieve stress.

  • Relaxation techniques: Daily practice of meditation or yoga has been shown to help relieve headache symptoms.

  • Avoid overmedicating yourself: Taking too many headache medications can cause the development of medication overuse headaches.

  • Regular exercise: Participate in aerobic activities to improve your overall physical and mental health.

  • Get enough sleep: Get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and maintain the same sleep pattern whenever possible

There are also prescription medications available for headache prevention. Speak with a doctor to learn more.

When to see a doctor for headaches

Be aware that headaches can sometimes be a symptom of a severe or life-threatening condition, and a person should seek professional medical help by calling 911. If you experience the following symptoms, you should seek medical care as soon as possible:

  • Noticeable changes to the usual headache symptoms

  • Headache after injuries to the head, e.g. concussion

  • Persistent headache that worsens with time

  • Confusion or slurred speech

  • Seizures or loss of consciousness

  • Headache accompanied by fever or stiff neck

  • Headache coupled with high blood pressure

Related conditions to headaches

According to the American Migraine Foundation, the following health conditions seem to be related to migraine headaches. This means that, in the general population, the chances of migraine headaches happening together with these mental and neurological conditions are high:

Headache treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for headaches?

    Headache treatment will depend on the type of headache experienced. Normally, over-the-counter pain relievers are enough for immediate headache relief. For a severe headache that occurs in higher frequency, talk to your doctor about prescription-strength medication for pain relief or migraine prevention. Also, look to add non-medicinal approaches, such as relaxation techniques, to your headache pain management and treatment plan.

  • How do you get rid of a headache without medication?

    • The following non-medicinal treatments may provide headache pain relief:

      • Massage

      • Acupuncture

      • Behavioral therapy

      • Relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga

        However, if the pain is severe and persistent, speak to your doctor or medical healthcare provider to determine the type of headache and develop an effective treatment plan, which may involve headache medications.

  • What are the different types of headaches?

    • Primary headaches are not related to any medical conditions and may be triggered by stress, food, and alcohol. Examples of primary headaches are cluster headaches and migraine headaches.

      On the other hand, secondary headaches are related to some medical conditions. Some examples of related medical conditions may include:

      • Acute sinusitis

      • Brain aneurysm

      • Concussion

      • Flu

  • What cures a headache fast?

    To cure a headache fast, first recognize the type of headache that is affecting you. Over-the-counter pain relievers are typically effective in relieving symptoms. Examples are: acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve).

  • How can I stop a daily headache?

    Here are some steps to take to help alleviate chronic daily headaches:

    • Learn to recognize and reduce exposure to migraine triggers

    • Avoid overmedicating yourself, as taking too much headache medications can lead to medication overuse headaches

    • Participate in regular aerobic activities to improve your overall well-being

    • Get enough sleep

    • Reduce stress by practicing meditation or yoga regularly, as these activities have been shown to improve mood and reduce stress

  • How to get rid of a sinus headache?

    • The fastest way to get rid of a sinus headache is to determine the cause and begin proper treatment. Medication and home remedies are the fastest way to get rid of sinus headaches.

      • If your sinus headache is caused by a virus, it will go away on its own, usually within 7 to 10 days.

      • If your sinus headache is caused by bacteria or fungus, you may need to be prescribed antibiotics to help fight the infection beyond 10 days of symptoms. This requires a consultation with a medical doctor so that they can decide if an antibiotic is right for you.

      • If your sinus headache is caused by seasonal allergies or the common cold, you may need to take some over-the-counter medications and begin home remedies.

  • Can you get a sinus headache without congestion?

    It is very rare to experience a sinus headache without congestion. If you have a headache that seems like a sinus headache, but have no congestion, it is less likely to be a sinus headache.   Sinus headaches are usually accompanied by congestion, because sinus infections often stem from upper respiratory infections. An infection like this causes swelling in the sinuses, which are very small, and makes your body produce more mucus, which helps fight off these infections. However, the swelling and increased mucus production lead to congestion and prevent normal drainage of your sinuses, which leads to pain.

3 simple steps to request treatment for headaches today

Step 1

Book a headache treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your headache symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Pick up prescription for headache treatment, if provided.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Headache treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request headache treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

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  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
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Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.