Identifying Rebound Headache and Beating It
You have chronic headaches that just won’t go away. You’ve been diagnosed with migraine or cluster headaches and you get them regularly. You find yourself taking either OTC (over the counter) or prescription pain medication several times a week – sometimes more than once daily. Does it seem like the medicine just isn’t helping anymore? Maybe in some cases it even makes it worse!
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic daily headache disorder and this happens to you, chances are you are experiencing rebound headaches. The simple definition of a rebound headache is headache pain caused by repetitive, long-term use of headache medicine. Sounds like quite the vicious cycle, doesn’t it? It is. And it’s a beast to break out of. Typically what happens is you get a headache from not taking the medicine when your body is expecting it. The more frequently you take the medicine, the more frequent the rebound headaches become.
How do you know if you’re getting rebound headaches? It’s pretty easy to determine once you have figured out what your particular symptoms are. Many people often wake up with a headache, prompting them to go right for the medicine first thing in the morning. After all, you can’t get a good start to the day when your brain feels like it’s swelling in your skull. The next thing that happens is the medication, typically 4 hours later or so, starts to wear off and you feel the pain again. (Did we mention vicious cycle?) Other symptoms tend to be nausea, concentration and memory problems, and irritability. And that’s on top of your normal chronic headache pain! Yikes.
How to Help Rebound Headaches Naturally
No one has time for a headache, much less a full-blown migraine. We do what we have to do to get by – getting the kids to school, functioning at work and managing to drive back home in 5:00 traffic can seem like a daunting list of tasks when in severe pain. So we clamor for the aspirin or acetaminophen, chug down the caffeine, and pray we get through the day. After all, we have no choice, right?
The key to breaking the cycle is to break the dependency. It’s not a pretty site. You can wean yourself off the meds or go cold turkey, depending on what kind of time frame you have to work with. Many of us only have the weekend to accomplish anything, which probably means the cold-turkey option. What does it entail? You simply stop taking the medicine. No matter what. Even if you get a migraine that has you down for the count over the entire weekend, you cannot resort back to that little bottle in the medicine cabinet. You should discuss stopping the medication with your doctor as there can and may be side-effects from stopping them.
Now, some of you may be thinking this sounds just like addiction. To be clear, it is not. This has nothing to do with addiction and everything to do with survival. It’s, of ten times, the only way we know how to get by in life.
That being said, if you are fortunate enough to have insurance and a doctor willing to work with you, you can also work out a plan based on your individual headache cycle and your lifestyle. This may even include an in-patient hospital stay that can include a series of non-invasive tests to determine the root cause of the headache pain. It goes without saying that if there’s no pain, there’s no need for painkillers. If, with the help of your physician or neurologist, you can narrow down what is causing the pain and address that problem, you can likely bypass the chronic headaches…and rebound headaches. If you get migraines, you will eventually want to go on a natural migraine prevention supplement such as MigraGone.
The best course of action is to consult your doctor and figure out what will work best for you. You might be advised to try alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture or acupressure, chiropractic, biofeedback, or even talk therapy.