Rebound Headaches

Rebound Headaches

Fact Checked

Rebound headaches occur due to overdose or over usage of medication; specifically headache medication. The consistency of these varies from the amount or sort of drug consumed. Drugs like barbiturates make headaches occur at a faster rate as compared to, for example opiates. This is usually because your body becomes used to the drugs you are consuming.


The symptoms of these headaches are as follows:

  • Disruption of sleep.
  • Improvement with counter medication, but recurring.
  • Felt all the time, i.e. during the whole day.
  • Tendency to increase during physical or mental activities.

Symptoms may that occur along with the head aches:

    • Unable to concentrate
  • Anxiousness
  • Restlessness
  • Memory problems
  • Getting irritated easily
  • Depression
  • Stuffy nose
  • Neck pain

When to seek medical help

See your doctor if:

  • Pain is unbearable.
  • Other symptoms are present, for example, seizures, feeling weak or a presence of a fever.
  • The pain is after a head injury.
  • It keeps getting worse, after usage of pain medication.
  • You are over 50 and you are inexperienced with the symptoms.
  • It disturbs your sleep.
  • Pain only subsides after taking extra medication.


The treatment, in case of rebound headaches is your ability to quit your dependence on the drugs you use. A doctor would either recommend to stop using the medication immediately or decreasing your intake of it little by little. It is likely that your intake will be kept to a minimum if the drug contains butalbital. Quitting for most people is tough and the pain gets worse in the beginning of the process. It is likely that there will be withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, vomiting or constipation; these however only last around a couple of days, but may also last a few weeks.

Doctors normally prescribe medication such as Dihydroergotamine which helps reduce the effect of headaches during treatment. Other possible alternatives could be minute uses of corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some people prefer the help of an outside control, such as hospitals or going through therapy; which helps the people stay motivated to keep away from the medications they are dependent upon or help stay in an environment where they cannot access it at all.Rebound Headaches

Therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy helps people stay positive about their actions, helps them focus on healthier ways to reduce headaches and related symptoms. Sometimes patients are asked to keep journals related to their headaches, which in the long-term can be used to show how much they are improving, which helps motivate them. However, since relapse is a possibility patients are encouraged to keep follow-up therapy sessions every few months or so.

The last resort for most people is going to hospitals and staying there, so the amount of drug administered to you is exactly the amount prescribed by the doctor. This is also helpful if there is anxiety or depression present because patients are safe from hurting themselves in frustration.

After you no longer have rebound headaches, your doctors can focus on helping you to find an alternative for original headaches that started the whole problem. They could ask you to take, tricyclic antidepressants, such as nortriptyline or amitriptyline (Includes Pamelor or Aventyl). Anticonvaulsants like divalproex or topiamate, beta blockers like propranolol. Either way, it is always good to adhere to your doctor’s advice and take only the amount prescribed by your doctor.

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