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Consumer Reports Urges Chronic Headache Sufferers to Examine Their Use of Pain Relief Drugs
Date:9/2/2008

Regular Use of Pain Pills Can Make Headaches Worse

YONKERS, N.Y., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports advises people who suffer from frequent headaches to talk to their doctors before reaching again into their medicine cabinets. Overuse of prescription and over-the-counter pain medications can make headaches worse, according to Consumer Reports' medical adviser Orly Avitzur, M.D., who reports in CR's October issue on how some consumers inadvertently create their own headaches.

"People tend not to think of headache pills, especially those they can buy without a prescription, as 'serious' drugs," says Dr. Avitzur. "But, used improperly, even drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin can increase headache pain. Instead of reaching for a pill when a headache comes on, people should consider alternatives. Relaxation techniques, exercise, and acupuncture can all help ease headache pain. People who suffer from frequent or severe headaches should see their doctors."

Consumer Reports notes that regular use of pain relievers can bring on a condition known as medication-overuse headache, which affects up to two-thirds of patients who seek help at headache treatment centers. The International Headache Society defines medication-overuse headaches as those that are present for at least 15 days a month or have developed or markedly worsened because the sufferer used too much medication.

The problem can be caused by prescription pain medicines, over-the-counter pain relievers, or combinations of medications. Almost all such drugs have the potential to cause medication-overuse headaches. Dr. Avitzur reports that some experts believe the main culprits to be preparations containing barbiturates (such as Fioricet and Fiorinal), opioids, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen (Advil and generic) or naxproxen (Aleve and generic), and migraine-specific drugs called triptans (such as Imitrex and Maxal
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SOURCE Consumer Reports
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