Public Release: 

Taking a number of medications regularly could give you a serious headache

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

If you frequently take over-the-counter pills or prescription medication to make your headaches go away, you might get relief--temporarily. But the frequent use of headache medications to make the pain of a headache disappear could trigger chronic daily headache (CDH), according to recent commentary appearing in Headache Currents. Numerous studies have highlighted similar conclusions about the overuse of medication, giving further weight to the expert opinions from Drs. Fred Sheftell and Marcello Bigal of the New England Center for Headache.

Headache Currents, a joint publication of the American Headache Society and Blackwell Publishing, just released this commentary on recent articles documenting the evidence that suggests that medication overuse is associated with CDH. Sheftell and Bigal recommend that physicians need to address this with their patients by carefully examining their medical and medication history, and patients should seek medical help if they are taking pills multiple times a week on a regular basis.

"Physicians and patients need to be educated in the phenomenon of medication-overuse headaches (MOH)," says Dr. Sheftell. Sheftell previously wrote an article on the negligence of the FDA and FTC in this matter, because they do not currently mandate that over-the-counter products address the dangers of overmedication, adverse events, or contra-indications in their labeling or advertising.

"Chronic daily headache is a debilitating and difficult problem to treat, often requiring specialty center care," added Sheftell. According to the International Headache Society, CDH affects about 3 to 5% of the general population and 70 to 80% in specialty care settings, making it one of the most frequently encountered headache disorders seen in the specialty care setting. The burden of CDH-related disability is substantial and is associated with a significantly diminished health-related quality of life, decreased physical, social and occupational functioning, and worsened mental health.


This study is published in Headache Currents. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact

About the Author
Corresponding author Fred Sheftell, M.D. of the New England Center for Headache was mentored by Lee Kudrow, who conducted the original studies on this topic and demonstrated the concept in 1978. He can be reached for questions and interviews through his assistant Susan Lee, or 203-322-9954.

About Headache Currents
Headache Currents, a new, peer-reviewed journal, was launched in partnership with the American Headache Society in June of 2004. Three issues will be published in 2004, and in 2005 the Journal will publish its first full volume as a bi-monthly source of late-breaking advances in the scientific understanding of headache, and the impact these advances will have on clinical practice.

About the American Headache Society
The American Headache Society (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the study and treatment of headache and face pain. Founded in 1959, AHS brings together physicians and other health providers from various fields and specialties to share concepts and developments about headache and related conditions. For more information, please visit

Headache Currents is made possible through generous support from MedPointe Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Pfizer, Inc.

About Blackwell Publishing
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 550 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals and 600 text and reference books annually, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

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