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EHC 2023 | What is medication-overuse headache? Facts and figures

Sait Ashina, MD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, introduces medication overuse headache (MOH), a secondary headache disorder defined as headache occurring ≥15 days each month in patients who regularly overuse headache medication (≥ 10 days a month) for at least three months. MOH typically occurs in patients with primary headache disorders who overuse medication for symptomatic relief, leading to increased headache frequency attributable to the treatment itself. Some studies have reported that as many as 50% of individuals attending tertiary headache centers in the US report medication overuse or MOH. Some of the most common medications taken by patients with medication overuse headache are paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and butalbital-containing combination analgesics. Opioids are also commonly overused for acute management, with up to 20% of migraine patients in the OVERCOME study reporting use within the last year. This interview took place during the 7th European Headache Congress (EHC) 2023.

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