Genetic research in medication overuse headaches

Medication overuse headaches are usually treated by withdrawing the offending drug (usually Excedrin, Fioricet or narcotics, such as codeine, Vicodin and Percocet) or dietary caffeine.  About half of the people who stop taking these drugs improve, while the other half does not.  A recent study by Dr. Andrew Hershey and his colleagues at the University of Cincinnati suggests that by doing genomic analysis of the blood we may be able to predict who is going to improve by withdrawing overused medication and who is not. This does not mean that the latter group is going to be left to suffer. However, this test could save a major effort that is involved in getting someone off medications. Instead these patients can be maintained on their medication while other preventive treatments are tried. These treatments can include biofeedback, magnesium infusions, Botox injections, prophylactic drugs, acupuncture, CoQ10, butterbur, and other treatments.

2 comments
  1. Christina says: 08/30/20115:28 pm

    I’m so glad I found this blog. Thank you for offering all this great information to the public.

    I’m 48 years old and have had migraines since I was a kid. About 10 years ago I developed a chronic daily headache after overuse of Imitrex. I improved after implementing suggestions from a book called Heal Your Headache, including stopping use of rebound-triggering medication and avoiding dietary triggers.

    I had been getting 1-4 headaches a week over the past few years, greatly reduced in both quantity and severity (though I started getting sinus headaches, which was new). Most of the time, ibuprofin takes care of the migraines if I catch them early (but not the sinus headaches).

    Recently, I developed an arrhythmia (PVCs) and then began getting migraines that were much more severe than I’d had in years. I also started experiencing an aura about once a week, which is unusual for me, as I would normally get an aura about three to four times a year. I went to the ER for one of these headaches and was prescribed vicodin, which I’ve never taken before (and haven’t yet). He also gave me a nausea medication.

    In order to try to get the PVCs under control, I started taking magnesium, taurine and COQ10. I’m taking about 300 mg a day of magnesium (Natural Calm Plus Calcium–it’s in powder form). I bought some magnesium malate and thought I’d start adding one of those a day soon (the bottle says 3 tablets= 425 mg of magnesium / 2.5 g of malic acid). I’m taking 500 mg of taurine twice a day and 100 mg of COQ10 (Ubiquinol) once a day. I already notice a difference in the PVCs, so one of these supplements is helping–probably magnesium and/or taurine because I just started the COQ10 two days ago.

    Can you please tell me what amounts of magnesium and COQ10 are likely to be most beneficial for headaches? The ubiquinol (containing Keneka QH) is supposed to be better-absorbed than regular COQ10, and I don’t know if this means I should take less–is the 100 mg I currently take enough?

    Concerning vicodin: I’m scared to take it after my experience with rebound headaches, but I suffered a couple of excruciating migraines recently when I sure could have used some relief. The midrin I took didn’t do a thing. How often can it safely be taken? Imitrex doesn’t work for me anymore and ibuprofen works for most of my headaches, but not these.

    Thank you so much. My daughter gets migraines, too, and I’ll share the info with her.

  2. Christina says: 08/30/20115:31 pm

    Sorry–made a mistake in the previous post. In the third paragraph, I meant to say: I had been getting 1-4 headaches a MONTH.

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