UK Watchdog warns painkillers can cause Headache

Pain Relievers

Overuse of common painkillers could be the reason nearly a million people in the UK have headaches, according to the health watchdog. The warning comes from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), an “arms length” body funded by the government, as it releases its first guideline for doctors in England and Wales on diagnosing and managing headaches in young people and adults. The watchdog was given the task in 2009, since when it has been conducting a review and consultation. The NICE panel that carried out the review says “medication overuse headaches” can come from taking aspirin, paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen) on more than 15 days a month, or opioids, ergots, triptans (a group of specific anti-migraine medicines), or combination analgesic medications on at least 10 days per month Professor Martin Underwood, of Warwick Medical School, led the panel. He says people can end up in a “vicious cycle” where their headaches get worse, so they take more painkillers, which make the headaches even worse, and so it continues. NICE estimates that one in 50 people who suffer from headaches could be doing so because of painkiller overuse. Manjit Matharu, a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, told BBC News, medication overuse was a “huge problem” in the population. He said estimates suggest as many as 1 in 50 people are affected, which is about one million people in the UK having headaches nearly every day because of painkillers. It is thought that most people trapped in this vicious cycle started out using painkillers to relieve an everyday, tension-type headache or migraine. Matharu said there was a “tipping point” at 10 to 15 days of using pain relief each month, when normal use turns into overuse. – See more at: