Why Don't My Headaches Go Away with OTC Medications?

January 11, 2017

“Another day, another pounding headache,” you think as you drag yourself out of bed in the morning. You pop four Advil knowing the recommended two just won't cut it for you. It goes away, but six hours later your headache comes back, and the cycle starts all over again.  In fact, it seems like you're only getting headaches more frequently since they began a few months ago.

“If this sounds anything like you, you may be experiencing what is known as Medication Induced Headaches,” says Dr. Joshua Daniel, a neurologist with Shore Physicians Group in Somers Point.  “These headaches occur when people with chronic headaches (those that occur more than eight times in a month) try to treat them with over-the-counter pain relievers. Instead, because the underlying cause of your headache isn't addressed, your headache persists and you require more and more of the medication to feel relief. You become dependent on it, resulting in more headaches. It's a vicious cycle, one that can be stopped – or prevented in the first place – by a visit to a neurologist.”

Neurologists like Dr. Daniel will provide you with an initial assessment to determine the cause of your headache and the appropriate treatment plan. While prescribed medications are often helpful in the treatment process, Dr. Daniel also will work with patients who would prefer to use natural alternatives.

“Each person's headache and circumstances are unique. There are many different types of headaches – tension, migraine, cluster headaches. My goal as a neurologist is to reduce a patient's headaches by 50 percent by the end of treatment, approximately three to six months. Once your headache significantly improves, we taper off the medications gradually until the headaches are gone,” Dr. Daniel says.

Dr. Daniel is eager to help people with chronic headaches and migraines, so much so that he began a new infusion therapy program at Shore Medical Center for people who suffer from chronic and severe migraines that occur daily.

“Infusion therapy is when patients have medications administered through an IV over the course of two to four hours. These patients need stronger medications, and infusion therapy sessions help break the cycle of debilitating migraines. Then, we put the patient on medications to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines,” says Dr. Daniel. “The medications we use and the length of therapy depends on the individual's symptoms and triggers.”

If you suffer from chronic headaches, it's important that you seek treatment from a neurologist as soon as possible. It is much more affordable to receive headache treatment in an outpatient setting, rather than waiting until it's so bad you require a trip to the ER or an overnight stay in the hospital. In one study 5 percent of those with headaches and had imaging were found to have a brain tumor or a bleed. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Joshua Daniel and begin your road to headache recovery, call 609-365-6202. Dr. Daniel's office is located at 52 E. New York Avenue in Somers Point.

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