Strategies for diagnosing and managing medication-induced headache.
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PROBLEM ADDRESSED: Headache is a common clinical disorder. Nearly 50% of patients with headaches use prescription medications, and 90% regularly use nonprescription drugs. Medication-induced headaches (MIH) are chronic daily headaches caused by overuse of medicine. OBJECTIVES: To summarize the diagnostic criteria for MIH, to determine the investigations necessary to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other possible diagnoses, and to establish recommendations for managing MIH. MAIN FINDINGS: Diagnosis of MIH is based on patient's history and the clinical characteristics of the headache. Treatment includes patient education and support, withdrawal of offending medications, relief of withdrawal symptoms, and specific treatment of residual headache. When migraine and other causes of headache are adequately addressed, patients will not seek additional pain relief. CONCLUSION: Medication-induced headache is preventable. The key to prevention is appropriate drug therapy to relieve the primary headache. All patients with MIH can be treated and most cured.
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