When most people have a headache, they take an over the counter pain medication or a prescription medication like opiates. This medication helps eliminate the headache. With the use of the painkillers, they can quickly get back to their busy lives.
If the painkiller is taken regularly over a long period of time, then the body becomes dependent on that painkiller. The body then gives off withdrawal symptoms, which includes headaches. Rebound headaches are also called medication overuse headaches, which is a more descriptive definition of their cause. No matter what you call them, they are treatable.
What Rebound Headaches Feel Like
If you’ve ever had one of these headaches, then you know what rebound headaches are and how painful they can be. These headaches often occur in the morning or soon after you wake up from sleep. They tend to get worse the more active you become. The headache goes away soon after a painkiller is taken. Although the main symptom is a bad headache, medication overuse headaches are often accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- · Nausea with or without vomiting
- · Neck pain
- · Irritability
- · Stuffy nose
- · Sudden feelings of depression or anxiety
- · Memory problems when normally you have a good memory.
Who Is Most Prone to Rebound Headaches?
People who are prone to rebound headaches already have a chronic headache condition like:
- · Migraines with and without auras
- · Chronic daily headache
- · Tension type headaches
- · Sinus headaches
- · Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Over time, patients with chronic pain learn that certain painkillers are reliable for taking care of headaches or migraines. Most people do not enjoy being in pain and cannot help but reach for painkillers when they are suffering. They may be on more than one type of painkiller. What rebound headaches are not is an indication of a weak will or character problem. It is common for anyone suffering from a chronic pain condition to develop rebound headaches.
Diagnosing Rebound Headaches
But determining what are rebound headaches and what are primary headaches (or the pain that made you reach for the painkiller in the first place.) There is no one single diagnostic test to see if you are suffering from rebound headaches. The best thing anyone with a chronic pain condition like migraines can do is to keep a pain journal. This helps keep track of how often painful episodes occur. Show this journal to your doctor or neurologist. Warning signs of rebound headaches include:
- · Getting more painful episodes than ever before
- · Getting more painful episodes after a few weeks of having only a few episodes
- · Getting headache after a 24 hour period without taking any painkiller.
Caffeine is thought to play a part in why some people taking painkillers develop rebound headaches while others do not. Caffeine is addictive. When the body wants more caffeine, it will give off painful withdrawal symptoms which can include headaches and migraines. Many people take painkillers with a caffeinated drink or take painkillers that include caffeine. By keeping track of caffeine consumption, you will soon learn what are rebound headaches and what are regular headaches.