What is the advice on taking painkillers for headaches?

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, paracetamol and triptans are effective for relieving occasional headaches.
  • Using them for tension-type headaches or migraines can reduce their effectiveness.
  • Taking painkillers up to half of the days in a month over three months is defined as overuse.
  • GPs and healthcare professionals need to better diagnose the different types of headache, and should not always advise the use of painkillers.

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Painkillers can cause headaches

People who regularly take painkillers to treat persistent headaches could be causing themselves more pain than relief, the health watchdog has warned.