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Chronic Daily Headaches

 

Overview

 

Most people feel a headache from time to time. However, if you feel a headache almost every day, you may have a chronic daily headache.

Rather than a specific type of headache, chronic daily headaches comprise a variety of headache subtypes. “Chronic” refers to how often headaches occur and how long the condition lasts.

The constant nature of chronic daily headaches makes it one of the most disabling headaches. Aggressive initial treatment and consistent long-term monitoring may decrease pain and cause you to have fewer headaches.

 

Symptoms

 

By definition, chronic daily headaches appear 15 days or more per month, for more than three months. True (primary) chronic daily headaches are not caused by another condition.

There are chronic daily headaches of short duration and long duration. Long-lasting headaches last for more than four hours. Here are some of them:

  • Chronic migraine
  • Chronic tension headache
  • Chronic daily headache
  • Continuous hemicrania

 

Chronic migraine

This type of migraine usually occurs in people with a history of episodic migraines. Chronic migraines tend to have these characteristics:

  • Affect one or both sides of the head
  • Produce a pulsating sensation
  • Cause moderate to severe pain

 

And they cause at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or both
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

 

Chronic tension headache

 

 

Usually, these headaches:

  • Affect both sides of the head
  • Cause mild to moderate pain
  • They cause pain that feels like pressure or tension but is not pulsatile

 

 

Chronic daily headache

These headaches come on suddenly and usually occur in people with no history of headaches. From the third day of the first headache, they become constant. These pains:

  • Frequently affect both sides of the head
  • They cause pain that feels like pressure or tension but is not pulsatile
  • Cause mild to moderate pain
  • May have characteristics similar to chronic migraine or chronic tension headache

 

 

Continuous hemicrania

 

Features of these headaches:

 

  • Affect only one side of the head

  • They are daily and continuous, without painless periods

  • Cause moderate pain with sudden increases in severe pain

  • Respond to prescription pain reliever indomethacin (Indocin)

  • May become severe with the presence of migraine-like symptoms

In addition, headaches caused by continuous hemicrania are related to at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Red, watery eyes on the affected side
  • Nasal congestion or cold
  • Eyelid drooping or narrowing of the pupil
  • Feeling of uneasiness

 

 

When to see a doctor

Occasional headaches are common and usually do not require medical attention. However, consult with your doctor in the following cases:

  • You usually have two or more headaches per week
  • You take a pain reliever for headaches most days
  • To relieve headaches, you need a higher dose of over-the-counter pain relievers than the recommended dose
  • Headache pattern changes or headaches get worse
  • Headaches are disabling

 

Seek medical attention if the headache has the following characteristics:

 

  • It is sudden and intense
  • It is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, disorientation, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, or slurred speech
  • Appears after a head injury
  • It gets worse despite resting and taking painkillers

 

Causes

The causes of many chronic daily headaches are not well understood. True (primary) daily chronic headache has no detectable underlying cause.

Some conditions that could cause chronic non-primary daily headaches include the following:

  • Inflammation or other problems with and around the blood vessels in the brain, such as stroke
  • Infections, such as meningitis
  • Intracranial pressure too high or too low
  • Brain tumor
  • Traumatic brain injury

 

 

Headache from overuse of medications

This type of headache usually occurs in people who have an occasional headache disorder, usually migraine or tension headache, and who take too many painkillers. If you take painkillers — even over-the-counter pain relievers — more than two days a week (or nine days a month), you’re at risk for rebound headaches.

 

 

Risk factors

Factors associated with frequent headaches are:

  • Being female
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Obesity
  • Snoring
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Excessive consumption of headache medications
  • Other chronic pain disorders

 

 

Complications

If you have chronic daily headaches, you’re also more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other physical and psychological problems.

 

 

Prevention

 

Taking care of yourself can help relieve chronic daily headaches.

 

  • Avoid headache triggers. Keeping a headache diary can help you determine what triggers the headaches so you can avoid triggers. Include details of each headache, such as when it started, what you were doing at the time, and when it lasted.
  • Avoid overuse of medications. Taking headache medications, including over-the-counter medications, more than twice a week can increase the intensity and frequency of headaches. Check with your doctor about how to stop medications because there can be serious side effects if done improperly.
  • Get enough sleep. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night. It is convenient to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Talk to your doctor if you have sleep disturbances, such as snoring.
  • Don’t skip meals. Eat healthy foods at about the same time every day. Avoid foods or drinks, such as those containing caffeine, that seem to trigger headaches. Lose weight if you are obese.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic physical activity can improve physical and mental well-being, and reduce stress. With your doctor’s approval, choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or biking. To avoid injury, start slowly.
  • Reduces stress. Stress is a common trigger for chronic headaches. Get organized. Simplify your schedule. Plan ahead. Stay positive. Try stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
  • Reduce caffeine. While some headache medications have caffeine because they can be beneficial in reducing pain, they can also aggravate it. Try to minimize or eliminate caffeine from your diet.