Think twice about reaching for the aspirin – taking too many painkillers can actually cause headaches

Health watchdog warns that millions of us are suffering headaches caused by overuse of painkillers

Most of us will reach for an aspirin or a paracetemol to get rid of a niggling headache, but according to health watchdog NICE taking too many painkillers is triggering ‘disabling’ headaches in millions of people.

NICE say as many as one in 50 of the population have headaches caused by taking aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetemol.

The risk is highest if you take these drugs at least every other day.

Too many pills can make the brain become more sensitive to pain, causing more headaches in some sufferers.

10m people in the UK suffer from debilitating headaches but NICE believe they often aren’t receiving adequate treatment.

They argue doctors should prescribe acupuncture, oxygen inhalation or alternative drugs known as triptans to combat the pain instead of painkillers.

The NHS spends £470m a year on painkiller prescriptions (not all are for headaches) and last year there was a four per cent rise in presciptions.

Dr Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE, said: ‘The key features of medication overuse and the symptoms that distinguish the types of primary headache can be overlooked, and concerns from patients about possible underlying causes can lead to unnecessary hospital investigations.

‘These can mean people experience delays in receiving adequate pain relief from what can be an extremely disabling condition.’

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