If turning to common painkillers for your headache is standard practice, you may be doing more harm than good as overuse can actually make your headaches worse.
‘Medication overuse headaches’ is a condition where long-term use of painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen may actually worsen headaches, both in terms of severity and frequency.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) warns that people could be “causing themselves more pain than relief”.
You should contact your GP if you take painkillers for 15 days or more in a month to control headaches or if take an opiate-based painkiller such as codeine or a combination of different painkillers for 10 days or more to control headaches.
NICE recommends that stopping taking painkillers may initially make patients feel worse before they feel better and also suggests trying alternative therapies such as acupuncture to help relieve tension and ‘everyday’ headaches.
Martin Underwood, a GP and professor of primary care research at Warwick Medical School explained, "Patients with frequent tension-type headaches or migraines can get themselves into a vicious cycle, where their headaches are getting increasingly worse, so they take more medication which makes their pain even worse.”
If you are concerned – make an appointment to see your GP.