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Triggering Migraines with Medicine Overuse

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Dec 6, 2013 7:00:00 AM

When you have a migraine, you are eager to find anything that will help alleviate your excruciating pain. However, some of the medicines that you take may cause you to have daily headaches that are known as medication-overuse headaches. Many migraine and headache sufferers experience medication-overuse headaches, but there are some things that you can do to make sure that you are not one of them. Medicine_Overuse_Headache

What are Medication-overuse Headaches?

Medication-overuse headaches are caused when a person takes too much medicine to ease their pain during a migraine or painful tension headache. These medicine-induced headaches may occur frequently or on a daily basis. Many migraine sufferers are experiencing stress and are likely to have more migraines and tension headaches, which causes them to start taking their headache medicines regularly to avoid the pain. Their bodies adapt to the new level of medication, and they experience withdrawal headaches when they stop taking the medicine. Once the withdrawal headaches begin, they reach again for their migraine medicine to stop the pain. 

What Medications Cause Medication-overuse Headaches?

Migraine sufferers rely on different methods to alleviate their symptoms, and nearly all of these medicine based methods can cause medication-overuse headaches. Many medication-induced headaches are caused by:

  • triptans
  • codeine
  • ergotamine
  • anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • paracetamol

Each person reacts to medications differently, and it may take one person longer to feel the effects of using too much medicine for their headaches. Many doctors advise that you not take your headache medicine for more than a few days at a time, and you should not be taking your migraine medicine for more than two days a week.

Treating Medication-overuse Headaches

Since these headaches are caused by taking too much medicine, it is essential that you stop taking your medication in order to break the cycle. Once you have stopped taking your migraine medicine, your headaches will probably get worse. You may have trouble sleeping, and you may feel sick or anxious. These common withdrawal symptoms will disappear once the body has adjusted to the lack of medicine in your system. Most people recover from their withdrawal symptoms within a week or two, but some people suffer for several weeks before they begin to feel better. You should also speak with your doctor because he may be able to prescribe some medicine that will alleviate your withdrawal symptoms. 

Medication-induced headaches can be very painful, and you may be tempted to reach for your medication so that you can feel better. If you are suffering from these daily headaches, then visit your doctor about how to stop them and how to keep them from coming back in the future.

*Image courtesy of

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Topics: Causes

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