Medical officials in England are speaking out about a growing and disturbing trend—debilitating headaches that are actually being caused by the drugs meant to stop them. According to the Daily Mail, as many as one-in-50 people in England have regular headaches that are actually triggered by pain medication.
The Problem with Pain Medications, and Natural Alternatives
Experts say too many people are getting on a vicious cycle—popping pills at the first sign of a headache and then experiencing more headaches from the pills themselves, sending them back to the pill bottle again and again. This is sad news for individuals partaking in the pill ingestion, as both prescription and non-prescriptions painkillers have been linked to numerous negative health effects.
Health watchdog NICE says that doctors might not be prescribing the pain medications properly or diagnosing the condition they call medication overuse headache. This is where the medication actually makes the brain more sensitive to pain and more prone to headaches.
So, a reoccurring tension headache or migraine treated with a pain pill could create more and more of the same headaches. All of this is happening while natural home remedies for headaches rest without being noted. And these treatments aren’t accompanied by the nasty side-effects that medications induce.
NICE says many of these headache sufferers could find relief from a different class of drugs like triptans, inhaling oxygen, or possibly even acupuncture. Another class of drugs doesn’t sound like a great solutions, but acupuncture could work. After all, research involving 18,000 people has shown that acupuncture for pain is truly effective.
They say some patients have become so overcome with pain they are asking their doctors to perform brain scans or other diagnostics in order to rule out things like brain tumors, not realizing their source of relief is actually the source of their pain.
A study published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine defines medication overuse headache as a headache that occurs on 15 or more days per month for at least 3 consecutive months. They say it is most common when the patient uses butalbital or opiods for pain relief.
They recommend relaxation therapy, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy as potential alternatives and as a method to wean the patient off of the medications causing the pain.
Another option is to use herbal remedies for headaches such as lemongrass. Lemongrass, when made into a tea, has been shown to have numerous benefits, with headache relief being one of the most prominent. (For instructions on making your own lemongrass tea, click the link just above).
Headache sufferers can also find relief from drinking more water, and using essential oils like peppermint and lavender. Massage and other methods of relaxation can further reduce muscle tension that leads to headaches.