Medication overuse – Chronic headache

Did you know that medication overuse headache is one of the most common chronic headache disorders and a common health problem worldwide? It is important to know how much is too much.

The simplest medications you can buy over the counter are Paracetamol, Aspirin and Ibuprofen and some of these medicines are in combination with caffeine. You have to be careful as caffeine can be a trigger for a headache.

The one to avoid at all costs is Codeine. In fact all opiates because these can very rapidly cause a tranformation in the head from episodic to a daily headache with episodes of migraine on top of that. It is also highly addictive and makes the gastric status worse which in turn will make your head worse. Plus they hit the wrong pain receptors, they are in fact better for bone pain, but not for headache pain.

Medication overuse headache is were the very thing you are using to treat your migraine causes headaches to become worse. National Migraine Centre

Simple pain killers, if you are taking more than 14 days in a month for three months, make you more you at risk of medication overuse headache.

Plus when we overuse painkillers, it gets to the stage were the medication isn’t working and we then need to detox the brain. I have had to do this on a number of occasions, particularly after a stressful period in my life, when I have overused painkillers in order to get me through the situation. It is then a case of taking a step back and seeing clearly the trap you have fallen into.

I have had such an episode recently. I am now in the process of detoxing my brain for the next two weeks without painkillers initially, followed by hopefully being able to maintain this for a month.

This is no easy process for a migraine sufferer or even if you have a headache which won’t go away. As you often panic it will never go! I can catagorically say from previous experience the longer you can go without painkillers the better for your head.

Lifestyle is the big change you need to think about when giving up painkillers. You need to manage your stress and give the brain a continued routine. The brain thrives off routine.

I would recommend:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Getting up at the same time every morning and resisting the temptation to lie in
  • Eating little and often and keeping your blood sugar level stable by eating food which feeds your liver e.g. bananas, apples, vegetables and oatcakes are very good at settling the stomach.
  • Avoiding too much caffeine and instead opt for herbal teas. I find lemon and ginger very good for cleansing the body and calming down any inflammation
  • Exercise regularly but don’t over exert your body as this will cause another headache
  • No alcohol during this period if you can as this will only dehydrate you and may cause another headache

The body is very complex and needs certain routines and stability in order for it to function at its best.

Wishing all my readers a Happy Christmas as much as they can during these strange times.

Stay well and stay safe.

2 responses to “Medication overuse – Chronic headache”

  1. A very interesting and informative article as always Helen x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Melody. It is a subject close to my heart.


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