Are You on the Rebound with Your Headache?

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Rebound headaches– cruel trick of nature?

Sometimes it seems that there are so many headache triggers out there giving you migraines, that you need to be a detective to get to the bottom of it- foods like chocolate and coffee are known to cause migraines, and stress, that unavoidable common denominator, accounts for approximately 80% of all tension headaches.

But what are you supposed to do when it’s the headache medicine that’s giving you your migraines?

What is a rebound headache?

A rebound headache is a recurring migraine which is caused by overuse of headache medicines.  Depending on the type of medication, a rebound headache may occur after 5 days of headache treatment per month, or after more than 9 days of  using a particular headache medication.  Also, using a pain reliever without following the labeling instructions may result in rebound headache symptoms.

Which headache treatments cause rebound headaches?

Taking too much of any pain reliever is likely to cause a rebound headache; numerous studies link rebound headaches with pain medication which were commonly considered “safe” to use at all times.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and combination headache remedies are known culprits for rebound headaches; sinus relief medications and sleep sedatives have also been proven to cause headaches.
  • Headache medications which utilize ergotamine and butalbital have been linked with rebound headaches in numerous studies.
  • Taking triptan migraine medications more than twice per week can cause rebound headaches; examples of triptans include Imitrex, Zomig, Maxalt, Relpax, Axert, Frova, Amerge, and Treximet.

How do you get rid of a rebound headache?

Following these guidelines will help you avoid getting rebound headaches, and ensure that you are getting maximum benefit from your migraine pain relievers:

  • Always use medication as directed by your doctor or the labeling instructions.
  • Limit over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers to situations where the headaches seem unbearable, taking the smallest dose suggested. Â So not use pain relievers more than a few times per week, unless advised otherwise from a physician.
  • Ask your doctor about possible drug interactions before taking any new over-the-counter medication.
  • Avoid using caffeine while taking pain relievers, particularly if the medication which you are using already contains caffeine.

Also read:

11 Headache Triggers you Never Thought Of

4 Headaches that Require Emergency Intervention


Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Wall Street Journal