Could you be causing your own headaches or making your headaches worse? If your headaches occur frequently, or even daily, consider that your actions may be playing a part.
Read on to learn how.
Daily Headache Syndrome/Rebound Headaches
Daily use of aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or other analgesics can create a rebound effect called daily headache syndrome. Rebound headaches are becoming more popular as people rely on these over-the-counter (OTC) medications without consulting their doctors. OTC headache drugs can create headache rhythms that can only be controlled with ever-increasing doses.
The result is a form of addiction that requires detoxification. Yes, it is possible to become addicted to OTC medications when a person becomes dependent upon them for minor aches and pains. No other treatment will work until those medicines are eliminated.
To counteract daily headache syndrome, instead of OTC drugs, use ice packs, heat, massage, relaxation therapy or other non-drug means. Use medications sparingly and only for more troublesome headaches like migraines. Also, for your own self-defense, follow label directions carefully. Most specify not to use OTC medicine for more than 10 days to relieve pain or more than three days to control fever, unless directed by a doctor. Check ingredients carefully. Long-term use of these drugs for more than two days a week on a regular basis makes you vulnerable to the rebound potential.
Migraines are much different and much more severe. The pain is more of a throbbing, pulsating pain so strong that it disrupts your day-to-day life, keeps you from doing your usual activities like going to work or spending time with family. Migraines typically occur on one side of the head, is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, and is worsened by physical activity. These headaches are very common, but mostly in women; 18% of American women suffer from migraines, while only 6% of men do. In the absence of treatment, these types of headaches can also recur every year.
Exercise, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques (anything to keep your stress levels down) will go a long way to keep migraine headaches under control or stop them from occurring so frequently. You can also watch out for migraine triggers, such as bright lights, sharp or loud noises, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, perfume, cigarette smoke, too much caffeine, psychological stress, chocolate, aged cheeses, chopped liver and freshly baked bread.
Migraine headache pain can also be lessened by taking OTC medications like Tylenol, Advil, Aleve and aspirin on a daily basis – but, as mentioned, this daily pattern can eventually lead to a form of addiction or other health problems, since all drugs have side effects. That being said, painkillers have their place when pain is particularly severe. You may need a stronger dose of medicine in some instances, which may also not require a daily regimen.
For this purpose, you can use combination meds like Excedrin or Anacin, which include substances like caffeine that help to constrict blood vessels more and keeps pain levels down. For extra strength, prescription painkillers like Tylenol with Codeine may be used. Because these meds are more powerful and are basically meant to be taken when pain is severe or unbearable, you can take them less frequently. Let medicine be a last resort, and instead make it a habit of using more natural means of treatment as mentioned above, so that your migraines won’t rebound with more intensity.