For many people, the very drugs that are supposed to relieve headaches are actually the cause of headache pain. The phenomenon of medication overuse headaches is surprisingly common: perhaps one percent of the population suffers from them. If this is the case for you, cutting down on the number of medications you are taking can help reduce your headaches, and adding drug-free treatment alternatives can help you cut them down even further.
Identifying Medication Overuse Headaches
Medication overuse headaches are defined as headaches that continue to increase in frequency and severity when you use headache medication. In general, if you are taking opiates or triptans ten or more times a month, you are considered to be using them too frequently. If you’re taking over-the-counter medications 15 or more times a month, you are also likely suffering from medication overuse headaches.
Medication overuse headaches are often called rebound headaches because they often occur when your headache medication wears off. For example, if you take triptans for your migraine, the resulting surge of serotonin can lead to a quick resolution of your migraine symptoms. However, when the dose wears off, you may be hit by another, possibly more serious headache.
You can also tell if you’re getting medication overuse headaches if the medications you used to take no longer give you relief from your pain.
How to Eliminate Medication Overuse Headaches
The essential key to eliminating this type of headache is to stop taking your medication. In order to accomplish this, you have to talk to your doctor and work with him on the best way to reduce your medication use. In the short term, this may lead to an increase in headaches, but over the long term you will likely see your headaches go down in frequency and severity.
You can potentially help to control headaches in the interim by trying drug-free headache relief strategies, such as biofeedback, acupuncture, and TMJ treatment. Talk to your doctor about the best way to do this–your doctor might recommend that you wait until you’ve completely gotten over your medication headaches before starting new treatments.
If you want to learn more about TMJ treatment and other drug-free ways to reduce or eliminate headaches, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.