A closer look
A contradiction in terms
Do pain relievers treat a headache,
or cause a headache?
Regular use of pain relievers — including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen — can actually cause headaches. “Rebound” or medication-overuse headaches can occur when the medication is taken more than two to three days a week or more than the recommended dosage. For reasons not fully understood, a drop in the level of drugs in the blood precipitates another headache, which in turn precipitates another dose. The cycle continues resulting in chronic daily headaches with more severe and frequent pain. Rebound headaches can occur with prescription drugs as well.
Although it is not always possible to prevent a headache, it may be possible to reduce its frequency by determining and avoiding what cause it. Triggers are factors that spark a headache. Most triggers are related to migraines but may be related to cluster and tension-type headaches as well.