Taking a painkiller for that bad back or those bum knees? That could explain why you might be having so many headaches as well, according to new research from the United Kingdom.
According to doctors, up to one million people in the UK have “completely preventable” headaches that can be quite severe and are caused by taking too many painkillers.
Doctors have said some patients have become trapped in a “vicious cycle” of taking such medications, which in turn has led to even more headaches, the BBC reported.
The information and warning come as part of the first guidelines for treating headaches put out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The guidelines also recommended using acupuncture to treat headaches in some circumstances.
‘An easy thing to prevent’
What the organization has described as “medication overuse headaches” tend to feel the same as other types of common headaches and migraines. And while there is no definitive data in the UK regarding the incidence of the condition, studies in other countries suggest that between one and two percent of people are affected.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says figures are actually closer to five percent, according to some reports.
“Various forms of headache, properly called headache disorders, are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. They are pandemic and, in many cases, life-long conditions,” says a WHO Media Center report. “The evident burden of headache disorders on individuals and on society is sufficient to justify a strategic change in the approach to headache management.”
The natural response to such a condition would actually be to increase use of painkillers, but that is only worsening it, say UK researchers.
“This can end up getting into a vicious cycle where your headache gets worse, so you take more painkillers, so your headache gets worse and this just becomes worse and worse and worse,” says Prof. Martin Underwood, of Warwick Medical School, who led the NICE panel, adding: “It is such an easy thing to prevent.”
Researchers aren’t exactly sure how painkillers cause headache disorders. But what is known is that most of those affected by the condition are believed to have started suffering either every day tension-type headaches or migraines which became worse as they tried to treat them at home.
Manjit Matharu, a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, told the BBC there appeared to be a point after 10 to 15 days’ worth of using pain relief each month when the medications became an issue.
Over-medicating with painkillers is the problem so go natural
“This is a huge problem in the population,” he said. “The figures in terms of the number of people who have medication overuse headache are one in 50, so that is approximately a million people who have headaches on a daily or near daily basis because they’re using painkillers.”
According to the panel, people who have a family history of tension headaches or migraines could be genetically more vulnerable to headaches caused by medication overuse. Such people could also be susceptible when taking pain relief for other reasons not related to headaches.
The new NICE guidelines for physicians in England and Wales recommend telling sufferers to stop taking all forms of pain relief immediately – though that is likely to lead to a few weeks of agony as patients will then have to deal with headaches sans pain relief, until their symptoms eventually improve.
That said, there are a number of natural remedies for headaches and migraines, many of which are extremely simple and effective, and which could alleviate the need for any medications at all. They include herbal remedies like feverfew, mineral supplementation with magnesium, B2 and CoEnzymeQ10, and various oils like fish oil and peppermint oil. Read about here at Natural News.