Rebound headache

Rebound headache is a type of chronic headache that can result from overuse of pain medications. This is often a problem for people who have frequent, severe headaches.

A rebound headache occurs once pain medication has worn off, prompting a person to take another dose. This can lead to a cycle of more frequent headaches and taking higher doses of medication more often until a person builds up a tolerance. Eventually a headache results whenever the medication is stopped. At that point, the person cannot stop taking the pain relievers without having a headache.

Treating rebound headache can be difficult. To break the cycle, medication may be needed that helps prevent headaches, and the person needs to avoid pain medication when headaches occur. Gradually, headaches may become less frequent and less severe.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology

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