Drugs trigger headaches

The Head That Keeps Aching

If you’ve ever tapped out a couple of aspirin or acetaminophen
while wondering, “I took a dose of these just hours ago – why do I
still have a headache?” the answer might be right there in your

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers
surveyed nearly 65,000 subjects who reported on their use of
analgesics, and their frequency of headaches and other discomforts
such as back and neck pain.

The findings confirmed earlier studies that have demonstrated how
frequent analgesic use to address chronic headaches or body pains
may be the cause of headache pain in as many as half of the
patients who suffer from chronic headaches.

Amazing, isn’t it? Aspirin and acetaminophen can actually GIVE
you headaches.

The Neurology study reports that subjects who suffered from
analgesic overuse headaches reported treating chronic headaches
or pains with analgesics on 15 or more days each month. Once this
vicious cycle is in place, the only way out is to completely
discontinue analgesic use until the headaches pass.

But anyone who suspects that analgesics are the source of chronic
headaches should check with their doctor before they simply go
cold turkey – especially if they’re taking a daily aspirin to help
prevent a heart attack.

In the e-Alert “Under the Gun” (11/10/03), I told you about a
French study that showed how severe angina and fatal heart attacks
might be prompted by the sudden halt of regular aspirin intake. In
more than 1,200 cases of coronary episodes, researchers found 51
patients who suffered heart attacks or other coronary problems less
than one week after they stopped using aspirin. Subjects with a
history of heart disease were at particularly high risk.

As we’ve seen with other studies, aspirin should not be treated
lightly, as a benign, side effect-free, wonder drug. It may work
wonders, but there may also be a price to pay.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Analgesic Overuse Among Subjects With Headache, Neck, and
Low-Back Pain” Neurology, Vol. 62, No. 9, May 2004,