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Many Kids Take Too Many Headache Pills

The June 10, 2004 Reuters Health reports that a new study released June 10, shows that nearly one quarter of children and teens with chronic headaches are overusing over-the-counter pain relievers. The study defined overuse of pain relievers as taking more than three doses per week for over six weeks.

The study noted that approximately one in seven kids said they took the medicines without telling their parents. Almost one in five participants said they had headaches every day, or nearly so. Most of the daily headache sufferers were girls and students who got high grades in school. Study author Dr. A. David Rothner, of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio told Reuters Health, "Most likely children and teens are taking this medicine because they think it will relieve their headaches, and not to get any type of "high."

The study noted that there are many reasons why kids shouldn't overuse these medicines. Some pain relievers contain aspirin, which puts children under the age of 19 at risk of Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal disorder. Additionally, other risks of overuse of over-the-counter pain medicines include kidney failure, liver problems, and intestinal and stomach bleeding.

The study author, Dr. Rothner concluded with a warning for parents, "If you see they're using the medicine more than twice a week, then bingo! You've got a problem on your hands, and you've got to do something about it."