Overuse of pain relievers can make headaches worse
Millions of people in Germany suffer from headaches every now and then. Many sufferers then quickly take over-the-counter medicines. But those who swallow such painkillers too often run the risk of even aggravating the symptoms. This is now pointed out by health experts. Headaches can often be treated without medication.
It doesn't always have to be medication
Pain at the temples and a buzzing skull: headaches are now a common illness. In many cases, the complaints can be remedied with home remedies such as peppermint oil, lemon balm spirit or coffee with lemon, but many Germans prefer to take medication. If this happens too often, there is a risk that the pain will increase, experts report.
Take action to prevent pain
Pain relievers and migraine medications can aggravate pre-existing headaches and turn them into a chronic illness if they are taken too often, too long or too high a dose.
The German Society for Neurology (DGN) and the German Migraine and Headache Society (DMKG) therefore recommend people with frequent headaches to take preventive action against the pain in order not to get into a vicious cycle of pain and medication.
“Patients can often treat uncomplicated migraines or tension-type headaches themselves. However, they should not take painkillers more than ten days a month, ”explains PD Dr. Stefanie Förderreuther, President DMKG in a communication.
Targeted prevention can reduce the need for painkillers. According to the neurologist, most patients could get their headaches under control with medical and, if necessary, psychotherapeutic help.
Headache caused by pain or migraine medication
The experts assume that at least half a million people in Germany have headaches caused by painkillers or migraine drugs.
"The clinical picture is more common in women, in patients with depression, anxiety disorders or other chronic pain, such as Back pain ”, explains Prof. Hans-Christoph Diener, Essen, headache expert of the DGN.
"Most patients have no idea that painkillers can be the cause of pain," says Diener.
It is all the more important that experts explain the risk and advise on effective treatment alternatives.
In the new guideline on the diagnosis and therapy of headache from overuse of pain and migraine drugs, Diener and his colleagues recommend a three-step procedure for people who are affected by overuse and persistent headaches.
"The first measure should always be to train and advise patients, with the aim of reducing the intake of acute medication," explains PD Dr. Charly Gaul, General Secretary of the DMKG.
"The second step is drug prophylaxis of the underlying headache disease," says the specialist.
“If this therapy does not work, the third step should be to stop taking medication. Depending on the situation, this withdrawal can be carried out on an outpatient, day clinic or inpatient basis. "
Endurance sports and relaxation against headache attacks
DGN and DMKG recommend consistent preventive treatment so that headaches do not arise from too much medication.
In addition to medication, endurance sports, relaxation and stress management can help prevent headache attacks.
"Behavioral therapy has also proven effective in prophylaxis," explains Prof. Peter Kropp, director of the Institute for Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Rostock.
Prevention options are not exhausted
However, these prevention options are far from being exhausted, notes Stefanie Förderreuther
“Many patients simply don't know that headache can be prevented. It's just not in people's minds. One reason for this is that they only see acute treatment of headaches in advertising, ”says the expert.
“On the other hand, preventive, usually prescription medication should not be advertised. And behind preventive strategies based on behavior therapy there is no company that has an interest in advertising. ”
According to the doctor, most patients can be helped with therapy that complies with the guidelines. Even headaches caused by overuse of acute medications can be treated and are not a dead end. (ad)