Information for the public
Treatment for medication overuse headache
Your healthcare professional should explain that medication overuse headache is treated by stopping headache medications. They should ask you to stop all drugs such as painkillers or triptans for at least 1 month and to stop all at once rather than gradually. Your healthcare professional should explain that your headache is likely to get worse in the short term before it improves and that you may have temporary symptoms of withdrawal, such as feeling sick or having problems sleeping. You should be offered any support you need to help you stop taking these drugs. If you also have another type of headache such as migraine or tension‑type headache, your healthcare professional may offer you treatment to help prevent the other type of headache, as well as advising you to stop taking regular headache medications.
If you are using a strong opioid, or you have other health problems, or you have tried stopping painkillers, triptans or ergots before and it has not worked, your healthcare professional may refer you to a specialist or to hospital.
Your healthcare professional should see you 4 to 8 weeks after you stop taking the drugs to check whether stopping has reduced your medication overuse headache.