January 18, 2020

Dependence on migraine drugs may lead to more migraines

What if the medicine you were taking to remedy a chronic condition or disease was actually causing your illness to worsen, or even causing another condition to develop?  That is exactly the idea behind some recent studies that have shown that some medications used to treat headaches, especially migraines, may be actually contributing to the problem.  Many people who take triptans for migraines end up developing headaches that can be attributed to these drugs.  In fact, according to ABC News, approximately four million people may suffer from medication-overuse headaches, as well as “rebound” headaches that occur when a medication wears off.

In a study of 160,000 patients, Dr. Lipton, from the Montefiore Headache Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found that approximately two percent of individuals who take migraine medication at least three times a month may become dependent on the drugs.  This dependency causes them to develop more migraines, and as such, they may have to change medications or treatment options.  But, these medications provide such great relief in the interim that it is difficult to give them up.  What can an individual do when he/she is suffering from such debilitating headaches without relying on medication?  ABC News offers some suggestions about how to manage migraines without drugs.  These guidelines may also help people to function better, as they will not have to suffer through medication side effects in addition to the migraine pain.

First, try to keep a routine schedule, which means the same bedtime, mealtime, and wake up time every single day of the week, including weekends.  This means avoiding sleeping in on weekends or rainy days, and avoiding big changes to this schedule whenever possible.  Next, try to keep a journal detailing what foods provoke a migraine and then avoid those particular items.  Don’t want to go through trial and error of finding what foods cause headaches?  Then, get a food list from the American Council on Headache Education and try to limit your consumption of these items.  It is also suggested that you exercise moderately and often.  In this same vein, you should avoid smoking and manage or avoid stressful situations.  Finally, try to get evaluated for any neck or jaw pain, as there could be an underlying cause of your headaches that is easily fixed with a neck pillow or a mouth guard.  If a headache has already developed, you can apply ice to the head and temples, and heat at the neck to stave off further pain.  Although all of these suggestions may not work for every migraine, they may help to curb some of the pain and may also result in fewer instances of medication overuse.

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