Reducing painkillers, dizzier

Lately I have been trying to get off the painkillers, yet again. Years ago I did 2 x 3 month stints with no painkillers, I was on propranolol and then amitriptyline at the time. I gave up on them as the headaches reduced but the dizziness got worse.

This is the second time in this last year I have tried coming off them again. The first time I took out the caffeine ones and took paracetamol and codeine (very small amounts) and got dizzier. This time, I have reduced the paracetamol, codeine and caffeine to one third of a tablet 3 times a day. The other day I went all day without any and the next day was so dizzy I couldn’t function.

This happens to me every time. I fear that I am stuck on them for life, as for some reason, the small amounts seem to control the dizziness. Has anybody else noticed this increase in dizziness coming off the painkillers?


Hi Christine,

I stopped taking painkillers regularly about six months ago, although I occasionally have the odd nurofen now, but I don’t seem to suffer from rebound headaches so long as I don’t get back into the habit of taking them nearly every day. I never took many per day, but I would say I never used to go more than 3 or 4 days without taking some, and whenever I went out anywhere I would be paranoid about making sure I had some with me, so I suppose that shows I had some kind of addiction to them.

Anyway, I must admit I didn’t notice much difference in my dizziness when I stopped taking them, but to be honest I always found paracetamol and codeine made me feel very spaced out anyway, and made me dizzier, so clearly they were having a different effect on me compared to you.

Sorry I can’t be very helpful. My only idea would be, could you perhaps cut down to just plain paracetamol instead and see how you feel with that? It might give you a half-way step and let your body adjust to that before cutting them all out. The other thing you could do is to go cold turkey and try to accept you might feel worse for a few days, and try to just go with it, and hopefully within a week or so you would feel better again. But I know that’s easier said than done.

It sounds to me that, oddly enough, that combination is functioning as a preventative medication for you. Are you tapering off them under supervision of a doctor, on you own, just to reduce headaches?? Are you concerned about tolerance?

I’ve been avoiding them myself, with rare exceptions, so I can’t provide the voice of experience to help you. I will say that the last thing I’d try is a painkiller containing caffeine.

Gail, I have been trying to taper off on my own, having been under the neurologst for 10 years, we gave up on each other. I keep thinking I might have some sort of rebound but I dont honestly think I have on the small amount I take per day on average. Of course, I then get days when I can have pure migraine for 7 days in a row when I up the painkillers. Yes you are right, they have been working as a sort of preventative for me for years and years since I get less side effects than the preventatives I tried (over 20 of them).


Hey Christine,

I’ve only fallen off the wagon once since I dumped the painkillers months ago now and the aspirin only seemed to cause rebound pain so I’ve steered clear. I’ve never noticed feeling dizzier without them. Conversely I have felt dizzier AFTER taking ibuprofen in the past.

Scott 8)

Geez, isn’t that ironic that the dizziness can be worse either with or without it all?? This condition is merciless, that’s for sure. I was looking back through my logs to September when I took a crash and ended up on the forum shortly thereafter looking for answers. I had just REDUCED my coffee intake and all hell broke loose for many weeks. Thought I was doing the best thing even by tapering by the very tiniest amount. Turns out that the reduction helped bring on withdrawal and classic migraines that I never got along with my “normal” dizziness that I usually had. I’m sure I’m better off down the road now without the morning black brew (I STILL miss it…) but that little project really set me off. However, I am now on a new road that I would’ve missed if it hadn’t been for that ‘shortcut’ to effective treatment. Hang in there, Christine.

Scott, I get dizzier after ibubrofen as well!

Its difficult to let go of this last one third of one painkiller in the morning and one third before bed, as it keeps control of things.
Trouble is, I have done this before and stopped them all for 3 months and just stayed dizzy all the time, staggering around like a drunkard and taking loads of stemetil.