What is a rebound headache, and how can you treat it?
Rebound headache is the name applied to any headache that occurs as the result of taking pain medication, including over-the-counter headache medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, “How frequently rebound headaches occur depends on the type of overused drug.” It may be when a particular drug is used more than twice in a month, or it may be after 15 uses every month. This same type of reaction can occur when coffee or other heavily caffeinated beverages are consumed frequently, especially if you drink large amounts every day.
Rebound headache symptoms. These headaches generally strike in the early morning and usually continue throughout the day unless you consume the overused drug that is causing the rebound headache. In most cases, the headache pain will get worse with exertion. If you use over-the-counter pain medications more than four or five times a month and frequently get exercise-induced headaches or morning headaches, chances are you are suffering from a rebound headache.
Treatment. The treatment for rebound headaches can be tricky because, by the nature of the headache, traditional medications cannot be used. For very severe rebound headaches, doctors may be able to administer an injectable pain reliever that will not interfere with recovery from drug overuse. However, in most cases, the best solutions are natural forms of pain management. If severe symptoms during recovery get in the way of normal daily function, your doctor may recommend therapy sessions in order to aid in the development of coping skills. Full recovery may take several months.
Pain management. Alternating hot and cold packs are a favored method of naturally managing headache pain, but it may not be a viable option for chronic headache pain — eventually, you have to be able to get away from the heat packs and ice and go on living your life. Also, avoid foods that are known to trigger headaches. Abstain from or moderate smoking, alcohol and caffeine. Participate in daily exercises (low-impact if exercise makes your headaches worse) for better overall health and to help prevent other headache-inducing conditions such as depression. Effective pain management can not only make the recovery period more bearable, but it may also help prevent a lot of headaches in the future that may otherwise throw you back into the medicine/rebound cycle.