The headache problem with NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

The generic name of Advil or Motrin is ibuprofen which comes as 400 mg, 600 mg, 800 mg as a doctor’s prescription, or 200 mg over the counter. It lasts 4 hours and can help mild migraine.

Naproxen comes as 250 mg, 375 mg, or 500 mg as a doctor’s prescription or 200 mg over the counter as Aleve or Naprosyn, It lasts 12 hours.

Other similar NSAIDs are miloxicam, toradol, and indomethacin.

The problem here is that many persons may get daily, chronic headache, or an aggravation of headache by overtreating with these drugs. It happens with aspirin, excedrin, and Tylenol (acetominophen) also, but these drugs aren’t NSAIDS.

Use of these drugs more than 10 days a month can aggravate headache or cause daily headache. This problem is worse for patients who have inherited the migraine gene and have had mild migraines before which hasn’t been for them a big problem, or they have migraine aliases like sinus headache, hungry headache, or menstrual headache. Commonly the patient has lived with these not so bad, mild headaches for years but then they get into trouble when they start treating frequently with NSAIDS, taking multiple doses every day, and then they end up in the ER or headache doctor’s office with severe headaches with migraine features—one sided, throbbing, severe, behind one eye or on one side of the back of the head, nausea/vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

The treatment for this common problem (80-90% of new patients in a headache doctor’s practice) is to educate and detox the affected patient, start a preventive drug, use DHE shots or nasal spray, and often a week of prednisone.

Use of NSAIDs for headache can also cause or aggravate heartburn or GERD (gastroesophagel reflux disorder) which will usually improve after the patient quits taking so much medication, after they see their headache doctor and improve.

Also see blog articles under the category—medication overuse headache. Check out the article with a frowny face made up of pills.