You may be suffering from a rebound headache right now and not even realize it. As many as half of all migraines and a quarter of all headaches could fall into the category of a “rebound headache.” Luckily, not only are these types of headaches common, but they are also easy to avoid.

A rebound headache is a headache that occurs as the result of overusing pain relievers. They are also known as medication overuse headaches and analgesic rebounds, Everyday Health reported. Although pain relievers do offer relief for headaches, taking theses medications too often, such as more than a couple of days a week, can actually cause a headache rather than relieve one.

The biology behind rebound headaches is not completely understood, but doctors believe it may have something to do with how the medication affects pain receptors in the brain. According to Everyday Health, these headaches are thought to occur because ongoing use of pain relievers “rewires” the pain pathways in your brain. In addition, these types of headaches seem to be more common in some individuals than others, for example, some research has suggested that those with specific serotonin profiles may be more likely to overuse pain relievers, and as a result may be at greater risk for rebound headaches.

Symptoms of rebound headaches include near-daily headaches, often when you wake in the morning, and having these headaches improve with pain-relief medication, but return as soon as the medication wears off.

To avoid such headaches, it's best to limit your use of pain relievers and instead talk to you doctor about alternative medications that help to prevent migraines and headaches, rather than relieving the pain once we already have them. According to the Mayo Clinic, try to use over-the-counter painkillers less than 15 days in a month. Addressing depression can also help to relieve chronic tension that is associated with some headaches.

If you feel as though you already suffer from these types of headaches, relax; it’s not too late to address this problem. It’s best to stop taking pain medication, as taking more won’t help to relieve the problem and make actually make it worse. In addition, speak with your doctor about other treatment options that may be able to offer you long-term relief from chronic pain.

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