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Analgesic abuse - cause for chronic headache in children

Over the counter pain medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen(paracetamol) etc., is now identified to be the cause of chronic headache in children.

A team of Israeli researchers who treated 26 adolescents, found that the average number of tablets taken by each patient was 28 each week, with 16 using pain medication daily. They stopped all the analgesic medications and found that the headache symptoms decreased after 2 months. Inspite of the fact the exact roll of these analgesics was not known, it is proposed that these analgesics suppress the intrinsic effect of the brain to produce pain-killing chemicals on its own. "The more of these medications you take, the less your own brain makes," Dr. Merle L. Diamond, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, Illinois added.

Dr. Natan Gadoth, professor of neurology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, told, "This disorder is practically unknown to pediatricians". Paediatricians should be aware of the possibility that increase in headache frequency might be due to abuse of even paracetamol, which is harmless.

Rachel Hering-Hanit, a neurologist at the Meir General Hospital in Kfar Saba and colleagues said "They should avoid advising children to take pain medications at liberty".

"If your child is complaining of daily headaches and they're old enough to open that cap, it's important to keep an eye on how much your kids are using," Diamond said.

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