Is it okay to take painkillers daily?

Dear Doctor,

I have been taking pain killers daily to deal with my headache. How safe is this? Angel

Dear Angel,

Every headache has some underlying cause. There is a wide range of causes of headache. Inflammation or affection of any part on the head or under it, or on the face can cause headache. This includes affection of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, tooth, any one or more of these parts. High blood pressure can also cause headache. Fevers are mostly associated with headache. Mental tension and anxiety can also cause headache. Among sinister causes, brain tumors, infections of brain can cause headache.

Painkillers only suppress the pain but do not cure it. Cure lies in treating the underlying conditions. None of the painkillers are safe to take on a regular basis. The most common adverse effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is inflammation of the lining of the stomach, causing burning pain, discomfort after meals, nausea, vomiting, one or more of these symptoms. If this persists, peptic ulcer can develop. Aspirin can aggravate asthma and cause bleeding in some parts of the body. These drugs also damage liver and kidneys - two vital parts of the body.

Opiod derivatives used for relieving pain can cause excess somnolence, constipation and blurred vision as adverse effects.

Therefore it is better to find the cause for headache by suitable tests and get it treated, instead of taking pain killers on a daily basis. A healthy life style also helps in preventing and treating chronic headache.