Most headaches aren’t serious, and are usually relieved by medicines, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.


  • For pain relief, paracetamol usually works well to relieve a tension-type headache. It’s best to take a full dose as soon as the headache starts. A second dose of paracetamol can be taken after four hours if necessary. No more than eight 500mg paracetamol tablets should be taken in one day.
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, can also help with headaches.
  • Be aware that taking painkillers more than two or three times a week can actually cause headaches. Read more about painkiller headaches.
  • Regular exercise and relaxation may help prevent tension headaches.

Most headaches will clear within a few hours. Contact your GP or call NHS 111 if your headache gets worse, if you get them more often, or you develop other symptoms, such as a stiff neck or sensitivity to light.

For more information, read about headache triggers and the different types of headache.