Pain and tingling in the skull… the headache can come on suddenly or slowly. Very often not serious and not very intense, the occasional headache can be treated by self-medication. What medications can be taken in this case? Answers from Dr Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens.
Self-medication is not a harmful practice. On the contrary, it can be beneficial for treating mild symptoms or specific pathologies, such as headaches. Very often transient, headaches can therefore be relieved without necessarily going through the ‘treating doctor’ box. In 2018, 45% of French people resorted to self-medication to relieve headaches, according to Leem (Les entreprises du medicament). Globally, it is estimated that one in two adults has suffered from headaches or headaches.
What medications for headaches?
Normally, transient, mild headaches do not necessarily require the administration of pain relief medication. By resting in peace or by drinking plenty of water, the latter are reabsorbed on their own. However, in some cases, self-medication is necessary.
“To treat a headache yourself, ibuprofen and aspirin should be avoided. On the other hand, it is possible to take paracetamol while respecting the recommended precautions for use: 3g/day for an adult and 60mg per kilograms per day for a child, at intervals between 4 to 6 hours”explains Dr. Gérald Kierzek. “This analgesic can be consumed even during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is contraindicated in case of paracetamol allergy, phenylketonuria and liver failure”provides health insurance.
Not to be confused with migraines and sunstroke
In case the headache occurs in a person prone to migraines, then, “She just has to follow her usual treatment prescribed by her doctor”.
Dr. Kierzek makes a point of specifying that in the event of headache due to an insolation, it is especially not necessary to take medicine. “If the headache is heat-related, then it’s sunstroke, and in that case, just drink water and move to a cool place.”specifies the expert in relation to the current high heat.
Be careful !
It is important to keep in mind that self-diagnosis also presents a health risk in the case of self-medication. Taking medication without the advice of a healthcare professional can lead to significant problems. This is why it is essential to take care to follow the instructions in the leaflet concerning the maximum authorized dose and the posology. “Paracetamol is not a trivial product. In the event of an overdose, it can cause serious liver damage, sometimes irreversible”, specifies the Health Insurance. If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or get closer to your pharmacist.
Headache: when should you consult?
Although self-medication is a good practice for treating mild headaches, it does have its limits. As stated by the Health Insurance, if the headaches become more frequent, more intense and they do not yield to the usual treatment, it is recommended to consult your doctor within the week. “If the headache persists 48 hours after self-medication and fever or a feeling of malaise occurs, do not wait to make an appointment with your doctor”adds Dr. Kierzek.
In the event that other symptoms occur such as vomiting, vision and memory disorders or a feeling of malaise, it is then advisable to consult your doctor during the day. If you suffer from paralysis, slurred speech or your vision becomes blurred, call the SAMU (15).