American Hospital Blog

Chronic daily headaches

Chronic daily headaches

Headaches are a very common complaint most people have. For some, headaches occur too often, around 15 days a month. Such headaches can be categorized as chronic daily headaches, wherein various headache subtypes happen to a person.

The condition is determined by the number of times headaches occur and how long the state lasts. Being constant, it is a most disabling headaches situation that requires aggressive initial treatment and long-term, ongoing management to lessen pain and the number of headaches occurrences.

Understand the symptoms

Chronic daily headaches are experienced for about 15 days or more a month, occurring for over three months. Chronic daily headaches can be a short-lasting condition or long-lasting [for over 4 hours], including chronic migraine, chronic tension-type headache, new daily persistent headache, and hemicrania continua.

Chronic migraine: It occurs in people with a history of episodic migraines. These headaches strike one side or both sides of the head, causing a pulsating, throbbing sensation and moderate to severe pain. They may experience nausea, vomiting or both, and may feel sensitivity to light and sound.

Chronic tension-type headache: These headaches are experiences on both sides of your head, with mild to moderate pain that feels pressing or tightening but is not pulsating.

New daily persistent headaches: These are sudden headaches that occur to people without a headache history. These shift to being constant within three days of your first headache, attacking both sides of your head with pain that feels like pressing or tightening but not pulsating. Pain is mild to moderate pain. Its features are similar to chronic migraine or chronic tension-type headaches.

Hemicrania continua: Such headaches are felt on only one side of your head, occur daily, and are continuous with no pain-free periods. It is a moderate pain with spikes of severe pain with the development of migraine-like symptoms. It relives with pain reliever indomethacin (Indocin).

Hemicrania continua headaches are linked to one of the following, caused by nasal congestion or runny nose, the sensation of restlessness, tearing or redness of the eye on the affected side, or drooping eyelid or pupil narrowing.

Consult the doctor

When your headaches are occasional, no medical attention is needed. However, talk to your doctor when:

• You have headaches for experience two or more days in a week
• You need to take a pain reliever most days due to headaches
• You take more doses of over-the-counter pain remedies than prescribed to relieve your headaches
• Your headache worsens, pattern changes and are pretty disabling
Take immediate medical care when headaches are:
• Sudden and severe
• Comes with a fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness or difficulty speaking
• After a head injury
• Becomes worse despite rest and pain medication

Know the causes

Most primary chronic daily headaches don't have any known causes, but the nonprimary chronic daily headaches are usually due to:

• Inflammation or other concerns relating to the blood vessels in and around the brain, including stroke
• Caused by infections, such as meningitis
• Intracranial pressure that's maybe too high or too low
• A brain tumor or some traumatic brain injury

Medication overuse headaches may develop in people with episodic headache disorder like migraine or tension-type, and take many pain medications. When you eat pain medications or over-the-counter pills for over two days a week (or nine days a month), the risk of developing rebound headaches rises.

Recognize the risks

The female sex is more prone to frequent headaches. The other factors are sleep disturbances, snoring, anxiety, depression, obesity, overuse of caffeine, headache medication, and other chronic pain conditions.

Associated complexities

People with chronic daily headaches often have sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety and other psychological and physical problems.

Measures for prevention

Ease chronic daily headaches with the following:

• Avoid headache triggers: Maintain a headache diary to note and determine the factors that trigger your headaches, and then avoid them. Note all the details about the headache, like when it started, what activity you were doing and how long it lasted.
• Avoid medication overuse: Limit the headache medications or over-the-counter pills, as taking them more than twice a week may raise the severity and frequency of your headaches. Talk to your doctor about detaching yourself from the medication because there are severe side effects if done improperly.
• Get enough sleep: An average adult body requires seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Set the same time to go to bed and wake up each day. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing sleep disturbances, including snoring.
• Don't skip meals: Opt for healthy meals, eating about the same time daily. Limit or eliminate the foods or drinks that contain caffeine because it triggers headaches. And if you are obese, lose weight.
• Exercise regularly: Regular exercise or aerobics will help improve physical and mental well-being and lessen stress. You can pick activities like walking, swimming or cycling, but make a slow start and get a doctor to advise you on your workout routine.
• Reduce stress: Stress is one of the main reasons for chronic headaches. Get organized, plan and set your schedule— also, practice stress-reduction techniques, like yoga, tai chi or meditation.
• Reduce caffeine: Try to limit or eliminate caffeine from your diet as it can sometimes worsen headaches.

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