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When your medications give you a headache

Side effects: headaches

Almost every medication comes with its side effects (an effect different from the main effect desired of the medication). Most side effects are mild, meanwhile others are so severe we may feel like to stop taking the medicines.

Drug companies are required by law to list ALL possible side effects the drug could have in its drug label. The list is usually very long and frightful, however, not all those side effects apply to you and there are chances you might not experience any of them.

If you do experience a side effect that wasn’t listed, do well to let you health care provider be aware as this could help in reporting side effects to be aware of. Taking many medications at the same time could also increase your chances of side effects due to drug interactions.

As a general rule,it is important to not stop taking any medicines because of its side effects without first talking with your doctor or pharmacist. Keep a diary to note down how you feel and when you started feeling that way so that it is easier to trace the medicine responsible.

One of the common side effects of medicines is headaches (usually tension headaches). Many drugs can cause a headache but the most common are:              

  • Painkillers (funny right? however prolonged or overuse of painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol, codeine, caffeine…can lead to rebound headaches)
  • Birth control pills
  • Erectile dysfunction medications
  • HIV medications
  • Blood pressure lowering drugs
  • Hormonal therapy for menopause
  • Vitamin supplements             

and the list goes on…

Here are a few tips to reduce medication induced headaches              

  • Lie in a dark, quiet room with your eyes closed for a while         
  • Place cold cloth over your eyes           
  • Give yourself a scalp massage, massaging the base of your skull with your thumbs.              
  • Take hot baths              
  • Reduce your stress levels              
  • Avoid headache triggers like chocolates, caffeine…              
  • Take a painkiller (if not induced by over use of painkillers)              
  • Stop the medication if side effects too unbearable (talk with your doctor first)

Usually the headache also reduces as the body gets used to the drug.

Remember less is more (reduce the number of drugs you take) and not every illness needs a medication.

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Ekwoge Hilda

Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.

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