A rebound headache is caused by regular, long-term use of medication to treat headaches, such as migraines. Rescue medications, or pain relievers, offer relief for occasional headaches, but if you take them more than a couple of days a week, they may trigger rebound headaches. Any medication taken for pain relief can cause rebound headaches, but only if you already have a headache disorder. Pain relievers taken regularly for another condition, such as arthritis, have not been shown to cause rebound headaches in people who never had a headache disorder. Rebound headaches will usually cease when you stop taking the pain medication.
Rebound headaches can develop by frequently using headache medication. Although the risk of developing medication-overuse headaches varies on the medication, any acute headache medication has the potential to lead to rebound headaches which include:
Daily intake of caffeine, in your morning coffee, soda and pain relievers and other products containing this mild stimulant, may intensify rebound headaches. Reading product labels to make sure your intake of caffeine isn't more than you realize will help.
Signs and symptoms may differ according to the type of original headache being treated and the medication used. Rebound headaches can occur every day or almost every day, often waking you in the early morning, and can improve with pain relief mediation but then return as your medication wears off. Other signs and symptoms may include:
Some headaches may require immediate medical attention, including hospitalization for observation, and diagnostic testing. Treatment is individualized, depending on the underlying condition causing the headache. Full recovery depends on the type of headache and other medical problems that may be present.