Self Care Center - Headaches


Headaches are the most common reported medical complaint. Most headaches fit into one of two categories; tension or migraine. These types of headaches usually resolve with self treatment with ibuprofen and rest. However, if the symptoms worsen, you develop visual changes or if your symptoms do not resolve with treatment, then you should be seen by a health care provider for further evaluation.

Tension Headache

Signs and symptoms


- Headache on both sides of the head, located frontal or generalized over the entire head. The tenderness is a dull, pressing band-like pain often presenting upon arising or shortly thereafter.

- There is often difficulty concentrating

- There is often a feeling of a knot or pressure in the neck, forehead or scalp.



- Tylenol or Ibuprofen

- Massage to the neck, shoulders and head

- Hot or cold packs

- Rest and relaxation techniques.

Migraine Headache

Signs and symptoms


Usually comes in five phases which can vary from person to person, or from attack to attack

1) Prodrome-mood disruptions, fatigue, muscle tension, food craving, bloating, yawning

2) Aura-Visual disruptions such as loss of vision, flashing lights, floating objects in visual field. The headache usually starts one hour after the Aura stops.

3) Headache-One sided throbbing pain of 4 - 72 hours which increases with movement, associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sensitivity to light and sound, muscle tenderness, lightheadedness and vertigo.

4) Headache Termination-untreated, usually occurs with sleep; occasionally vomiting or strong emotional experiences will stop headache.

5) Postdrome-Headache has ceased but other symptoms linger such as food intolerance, impaired concentration, fatigue, muscle soreness.



- Most patients manage attacks with self care.

- Cold compresses to the area of pain

- Rest with pillows supporting head and neck in an area that is very quiet with no lights, sounds or odors.

- Withdrawal from a stressful environment. Sleeping is desirable

- Tylenol or Ibuprofen

- Occasionally caffeine consumption such as coffee or cola

- At times, prescribed medications such as Imitrex, Zomig, or Maxalt, may be the only effective treatment.


Student Health Center

LoGrasso Hall
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3131 phone
(716) 673-4722 fax