What are Medication Overuse Headaches?

By Drum Digital
26 May 2014

A staggering nine million South Africans suffer headaches on a regular basis and instead of addressing the cause of the problem, many simply make use of over-the-counter medicine which could lead to a condition called Medication Overuse Headache (MOH).

A staggering nine million South Africans suffer headaches on a regular basis and instead of addressing the cause of the problem, many simply make use of over-the-counter medicine which could lead to a condition called Medication Overuse Headache (MOH).

These statistics were recently revealed by The Headache Clinic, which has branches in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Dr Elliot Shevel, surgeon and medical director of the clinic, says a recent study indicated almost 16 per cent of the South African population endures headaches regularly. “People still overlook regular headaches as a serious health concern. As a society, we don’t pay enough attention to headaches and migraines and the impact it has on so many lives. Far too often it is considered to be something frivolous. Research further shows that figures are constant across all races, cultures and income groups. Migraines do not discriminate,” says Shevel.

He explains that when regular headaches are simply treated with pain medication, especially those containing caffeine or codeine, it could actually perpetuate a condition known as MOH. “MOH is not solely linked to over-the-counter medications,” says Shevel. “According to a recent study, the most potent form of MOH occurs when taking triptans, a commonly prescribed migraine-specific drug. Any medication or so-called migraine kit that contains ergotamine is also a cause for concern.”

Shevel maintains most headaches originate in one of three places: the jaw and neck muscles, arteries in the scalp or nerves running to the scalp. “It’s important to take a multidisciplinary approach when uncovering each sufferer's unique migraine map.”

Shevel says treatment should be based on the accurate identification of the underlying structural causes in each individual patient. He adds diet, posture, exercise and quality of life should also be addressed.

Go to theheadacheclinic.net for more information about the treatment of headaches without medication.

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