It’s easy to turn to medications like Paracet and Ibux when you notice headaches creeping up.
Figures released by the Pharmacy Association show that Norwegians are taking more painkillers than ever before.
Paraset sales in particular have exploded in recent years. Last year alone, 12 million parcels were sold in Norway.
– Because of its accessibility, many people think it is completely harmless, says Christopher Lundqvist, chief physician at the Neurology Clinic at Akershus University Hospital.
But the pills that are supposed to relieve pain may also lead to more pain.
– If you overuse pain relievers or migraine medications, you can get what’s called a medication-overuse headache, says Lundqvist.
This is how fast it can happen
In line with the increasing use of painkillers, this diagnosis is becoming more prevalent in Norway.
Lundqvist estimates that around two to three percent of the Norwegian population may suffer from this problem.
This means that about one person in every classroom suffers from headaches caused in part by medication overuse, says Lundqvist.
The definition of the disease is that you suffer from chronic headaches, in addition to the overuse of painkillers.
– If you use mild painkillers like Paracet or Ibux more than 15 days a month, you may get a drug-use headache, says Lundqvist.
If you use strong pain relievers or migraine medications, it may already occur after ten days of use each month.
The headaches can then worsen, and end up becoming chronic and difficult to treat.
This is one of the most burdensome headache diagnoses, as seen from quality-of-life surveys, says Lundqvist.
One age group stands out
Ahus neurologists have conducted several studies on drug overuse headaches in Norway.
Studies show that most people overuse Paracet and Ibux, says Lundqvist.
Overuse often starts with tension headaches or migraines, and so one starts taking more and more painkillers.
Lundqvist believes the diagnosis is particularly common among young people between the ages of 25 and 40. Many of these suffer from high levels of sickness absenteeism and are unable to work because of the pain.
– Of course, this affects the patient’s quality of life, but it also affects society severely and leads to very high financial losses, says Lundqvist.
This increases the risk
Paracetamol should be used without a prescription Just It is used for short term treatment. It can be taken up to four times a day if needed, but it should not be taken over several days.
– A doctor should be called after three days of fever or after five days of pain if symptoms do not improve, says pharmacist Marien Hoff at Apotek 1.
There are still many people who use Parasite much more often than is recommended.
TV 2 previously wrote that the use of analgesics and a number of other drugs has increased sharply.
Many readers reached out and admitted that they completely depend on Paracet and Ibux to get through everyday life.
This worries experts.
The risk of medication-induced headache increases with the frequency of medication use, and is greatest with daily use, says Hoff.
Very little control
The diagnosis is relatively easy to treat if overuse is found to be the cause of the headache.
“By cutting out the medication, you’ll first get over an exacerbation, before you finally see an improvement,” says Lundqvist.
At the same time, the neurologist believes part of the problem is due to easy access to over-the-counter pain relievers.
There is very little control over the sale of over-the-counter drugs. When you buy Paracet at the store, you don’t get any information or follow-up about how often you can take it, says Lundqvist.
He believes that prevention and follow-up by GPs and pharmacies are important measures to reduce overuse headaches in Norway.
– It is very important for people to realize that this can happen, says Lundqvist.
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