Too many pain relievers can ultimately make headaches more painful and less manageable, headache experts say. Because of this, doctors encourage people to try eliminating potential causes – stress, eye-strain and certain food or drink – before reaching for the medicine.
“The headache is a unique type of pain,” says Dr. Anwarul Haq, a specialist at the Dallas Headache Association. “The medicine that gives temporary relief today, it modifies pain control in the brain, and starts adding fuel to the fire, producing more pain.”
Taking pain medication more than two or three times a week can cause “rebound headaches,” Dr. Haq says. The body adjusts to the medicine and goes through withdrawal once it wears off. The result is a more intense headache, which prompts the desire for more pain medication. And the cycle continues.