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Taking Medicine For Headache And Ending Up In More Pain? Medication-Induced Aches Are Real

The condition has also been observed to reduce the efficacy of certain medications in these individuals due to regular use.

Just imagine taking a pill to get relief from a chronic headache and ending up in an endless loop of headaches.

Written by Kashish Sharma |Updated : October 31, 2022 1:13 PM IST

The rising familiarity and easy availability of certain medicines can lead to some degree of medicinal abuse. The aftermath of this abuse can result in more discomfort and physical problems. While over-the-counter drugs can be brought without a prescription and are typically safe, they too like other medicines do come with certain side effects. Just imagine taking a pill to get relief from a chronic headache and ending up in an endless loop of headaches. Yes, you heard that right, medicines if overused can induce chronic headaches.

The overuse of certain medicines can make you suffer from a vicious cycle of headaches where a person might take painkillers to get relief from pain and might end up having chronic pain that occurs nearly daily or frequently.

How can medicine cause headaches?

Medicine overuse headaches are defined by the International Classification of Headache Disorders as headaches in patients with a pre-existing headache disorder that occurs on more than 15 days of a month for at least three months. It is primarily caused by the overuse of medicines consumed to cure acute headaches. Such patients suffer from chronic daily headaches and have a history of analgesic use for two to three or even more days a week. The condition has also been observed to reduce the efficacy of certain medications in these individuals due to regular use.

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The vicious cycle

When you are having a headache, you are likely to take immediate relief from it. Hence, very likely you are going to consume the analgesic available and might try to get rid of the disturbing pain as fast as possible. However, if your headaches don't go away, you are likely to take more medicines for them. Regular consumption of these medicines to manage your uncontrollable headache will result in their low efficacy on your body and increased dependency. Hence, if the habit continues for a long, you are likely to end up in a situation where you might develop a chronic headache that repeats itself and cannot be completely cured using these drugs any longer.

Who is more prone to this behaviour?

People who suffer from chronic headaches like migraines and cluster pains, they are many times unable to manage the headache and they might hence increase their dependency on painkillers which might increase the problem manifold. It has been observed that medicine-induced headaches are three times more common in women than men.

How to know if I am the one?

Symptoms due to medication overuse vary in severity and type among people. However, some signs in your body and the frequency with which you consume the medicine can say if you have been a victim of your own medicine-

  1. Frequent or daily headaches that start when you get up in the morning
  2. Getting relieved on taking the painkiller only to see the pain return
  3. Often feeling nauseous and irritable
  4. Having a dull kind of headache all day long

Also, it's a good idea to assess whether you are over-depending on drugs like aspirin, sinus- relief medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs, caffeine and others.

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