What Is A Rebound Headache-Is It Serious

by John Blachford - Date: 2007-01-22 - Word Count: 636 Share This!

So you are a regular sufferer of headaches. To try and ease the pain you take medication which works so well you take it again as soon as the first signs of your next headache appear. Then you think to yourself that maybe taking more than the normal dose might be better for you. Then you find that the pills aren't working as well as they used to so what do you do? Of course you take even more and before you realise it you are now in the cycle of headache-medication-headache that is known as a rebound headache.

First of all it is important to note that rebound headaches (also called medication overuse headaches) are not a sub-category of normal headaches but a syndrome. They are a result of self-medication by people who suffer from frequent headaches (migraine etc.). They regularly use analgesics (any drug that is used to relieve pain) to try and get rid of the headache, this gives temporary relief so they take another pill and so on and so on.

The result is a headache that is caused by the very pain killers they take to get rid of it. By exceeding the safe limit the drugs start to cause headaches. By taking the drug regularly a pattern is set up whereby essentially your brain, having got used to the pain relief, starts to crave more and more.

How do I know I am having a rebound headache?

* You have daily or every other day headaches.

* The headaches are becoming more frequent.

* Your headache starts to get worse after only 3 hours following the medication.

* You find yourself relying on the medication more and more.

* Even though you are taking more medication you find that it isn't as effective.

* You are experiencing pain on both sides of the head that have a tightening feeling ("it feels like a tight belt around my head").

* You may find you start to suffer from mild photophobia (sensitivity to light) or phonophobia (sensitivity to sound).

* You have tight and tender neck and shoulder muscles.

If you feel this is you then you need to completely come off the medication. This however, is a slow and difficult process because you need to try and "re-educate" your body's craving, the first few weeks may even see you experiencing a worsening of the symptoms (as your body goes through withdrawal). Having said that if you know which drug is the culprit then coming off it will give you a dramatic improvement within 4-8 weeks.

To start with try to ensure that you have at least two days that are drug-free between every day when you're taking the painkillers. If possible try to take no more than 10 doses a month, if you're taking much more than that, see a good doctor and look for other solutions like:

Stress Management

This is an important part of the treatment of rebound headaches. The aim is to help the patient rid themselves of their knee-jerk reaction to head for the medicine cabinet at the first sign of their headache. Stress management techniques such as relaxation, meditation, breathing techniques, visualisation and biofeedback have all proved useful.

My advice is to talk to others who have the same problem and see how they deal with it. Help groups and internet chat rooms will give you access to other people who will be willing to help. The important thing to get is that you are not the only person suffering from this and as soon as you admit that something needs to be done you will be on the road to a medication-free life. You might even be one of the many who find that coming of the medication actually stops the headaches completely!

This content is provided by John Blachford. It may only be used in its entirety with all links included.

Related Tags: headache, headache migraine, rebound headache, medication overuse headache

John Blachford is an Osteopath with years of experience in the field of headaches. For further information on how to rid yourself of headaches go to http://www.cureyoursplittingheadache.com

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