It’s easy to say “It’s just a headache – take a pill”. But what if you’re doing that over and over?
We hear over and over that overuse of medications is bad for us – and it is. Medication-overuse headache (MOH) is a serious issue.
So we don’t want to “overuse” medications – but how much is too much?
It’s a very controversial question. And it’s true that it will vary depending on your condition and medical history. Many doctors simply won’t give you an answer – they prefer to take things on a case by case basis, and evaluate how things are going as time goes by.
And they’re probably right.
The problem is, many people aren’t going to a doctor at all. Many are just relying on “painkillers” when there are better treatments available.
The International Headache Society has tried to classify MOH and give some suggestions regarding how much is too much. Generally, they’ve set the danger level at 10-15 days a month, depending on the medication. Medications such as triptans, opioids, and combination drugs should be taken less often than aspirin or ibuprofen, for example.
But the need to simplify once again means that certain people may be following the guidelines, and yet they’re still taking too much. For example, the person who takes a medication every day for a period of time, and then stops for a while. Or someone who’s taking something every other day. Some doctors will tell you that you should be concerned if you’re taking something more than 2-3 times a month.
If you are taking painkillers more than 2 or 3 times a month, at the very least you should be having a serious talk with your doctor. You do not want to see things get worse, and they could very easily. Tell your doctor what medication(s) you’re taking, how often, and what your symptoms are.
Some people may be able to take more medications than others – but once it goes beyond a very occasional dose, everyone should find a doctor who will listen and get some good advice. They should also do their own research. There are probably much better options for you that will be better for you.