If you experience at least a dozen headaches each month, they may be rebound headaches. These headaches are the result of a cycle that occurs from the over-use of medications. You’ll get a headache and may take more than the recommended dosage of medication or you may even take medicine to prevent an anticipated headache that hasn’t even arrived yet. Then your body negatively reacts to the pain reliever or preventer in the medicine, causing another headache. Simple pain relievers or combination pain relievers, medicines that have a combination of caffeine and acetaminophen working together, are the main causes of rebound headaches. Specified pain relievers like migraine medicine, which may also use a combination of caffeine with its main pain-relieving ingredient, are another cause. The use of opiates for pain relief and your normal daily doses of caffeine, like sodas or coffee, also contribute. Anyone with a history of migraines or tension headaches are potentially at risk although this is not typically an issue for those who use pain medication on a daily basis to treat arthritis pain.
Rebound headaches are often referred to as “medication overuse headaches”. Lots of the symptoms are those that occur with other types of headaches so the condition can be hard to diagnose at first. Some people experience nausea (with or without vomiting), anxiety, irritability or depression. These are also some symptoms that can trigger a migraine. Other symptoms may include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and trouble sleeping. All these things may lead to a headache of dull, achiness or one of throbbing pain. The pain is usually at its worse as the medicine is beginning to wear off. These headaches usually occur everyday, sometimes as soon as you awaken.
The main purpose of treatment for rebound headaches is to wean you from your dependency of pain relievers. This is first initiated by a strict medical restriction. Since you are essentially overcoming a form of addiction, withdrawal does usually occur. As stated earlier, the headaches may actually become worse at this point because you are now dealing with the effects of the medicine wearing off. For some patients, this could result in a short hospital stay. Sometimes, depending of the severity of the withdrawal, doctors may administer small doses of preventive medications like tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta-blockers.
There are other ways to treat the frequent pain of rebound headaches other than traditionally. Acupuncture is the most ancient technique. It is the use of thin needles pressed into the skin to help release natural painkillers and other chemicals into the central nervous system. Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that teaches you to control your headaches by producing changes in bodily responses like muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. Hypnosis may be used to help you change your perception of pain and increase your ability of tolerance. Meditation will let you focus on a simple activity, like breathing, to help you manage pain and reduce stress. Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and chiropractic care may also be used, but there is not much scientific support for these claims.
Besides withdrawal, other complications can slow down the process of recover. Drug dependency is the main problem actually treated with rebound headaches, but some people also experience other complications. Over-use of some pain relieving medication can lead to stomach ulcers, liver damage, and kidney problems.
There are several ways to help prevent going through the cycle of rebound headaches. The main thing to do is to avoid the normal headache triggers. Get enough sleep. Changes in sleep patterns are usually one of the most blatant, yet overlooked causes of a headache. Don’t skip meals, but avoid foods that trigger headaches. Exercise regularly. The physical activity associated with exercise can cause your body to release chemicals that may help block pain signals to your brain. Reduce stress and most importantly, quit smoking. Smoking can trigger headaches and make them worse.