Managing migraines - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Managing migraines

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New York, New York - June 2, 2010

When a headache comes on, most of us head to the medicine cabinet or drug store for an over the counter painkiller. But new reports indicate a hidden danger associated with some of the most common medications.

Tanya Dirks began suffering from crippling migraine headaches in her early twenties. "You can't go to work you can't communicate with anyone you just have to hibernate until it's over," she said.

By her mid-twenties Dirks was up to fifteen migraines a month. "I was popping over the counter medicine aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin--far more than I needed to the bottle says take two every four to six hours I'd wait two hours and think I've got to do it again." But instead of feeling better Dirks' headaches just got worse. "It was just escalating and I couldn't figure out why."

It turns out Dirks was suffering from what's called medication overuse - or rebound headaches - caused by overdoing it with the over-the-counter painkillers like these.

"Just because you havent purchased it with a prescription doesn't mean that it's completely safe," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist and medical advisor to Consumer Reports.

It's estimated that one in four adults exceed the recommended dosage on non-prescription pain medications. Scientists believe the over use of headache medication alters the way certain pain pathways and receptors work in the brain.

"Don't underestimate your problem - don't think you can solve it yourself -- it's ok to see a doctor and talk about it," Dirks said.

Dirks now avoids caffeine and alcohol which can trigger migraines, and takes a prescription now instead of all those pills, because when it comes to over the counter painkillers -- too much of a good thing is just that.

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