What Causes a Constant Headache and How to Deal With the Symptoms

Most people will experience headaches every now and then, but if you get headaches more often than not, you might have chronic daily headaches.

The word “chronic” means that your headaches are a persistent, ongoing issue. Chronic daily headaches happen 15 days or more in a month, for longer than three months. Some headaches are short-lasting, and others may be long-lasting. Long-lasting headaches last longer than four hours. Chronic daily headaches can involve a number of headache types. Although many chronic headaches have an underlying cause, true (primary) headaches are not due to a separate condition.

It is important to see a doctor if you experience headaches regularly. Together, you can determine the cause and develop a treatment plan to combat your frequent headaches. You should seek immediate medical care if your headache comes as a result of a head injury or if your headache comes on suddenly and the pain is severe. If a fever accompanies it, stiffness in your neck, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking; a serious underlying condition could cause your headaches. It can also be serious if your headache becomes worse after you have rested and taken pain medication.

This article will describe six potential causes of a persistent headache and how to deal with symptoms.

Types of Chronic Headaches

Long-lasting chronic headaches come in four types.

You may develop chronic migraines if you have a history of episodic migraines. Chronic migraines can affect one or both sides of your head, and they cause a pulsating, throbbing feeling. Your pain level during a chronic migraine may vary from moderate to severe. Chronic migraines also cause nausea, vomiting, and/or sensitivity to light and sound.

Chronic tension-type headaches will affect both sides of your head. They cause a tightening feeling but not a pulsating feeling like a migraine. The sensation of a tension headache is often compared to the way it feels when you wear a headband. You may experience mild to moderate pain when you have a tension headache. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache.

New daily persistent headaches start suddenly, and they often affect people who do not have a history of headaches. These headaches become constant in less than three days of your first headache. They will typically affect both sides of your head. Like tension-type headaches, they cause a tightening or pressing feeling. New daily persistent headaches cause mild to moderate pain. This type of headache may also include features that are common with chronic migraines or chronic tension headaches.

Hemicrania continua tend to affect just one side of your head. If you have hemicrania continua, you will experience constant daily headaches with no pain-free periods. These headaches mostly cause moderate pain, but sudden severe pain will come and go. These headaches can become severe and cause migraine-like symptoms. Fortunately, hemicrania continua respond well to a prescription pain reliever called indomethacin.

Hemicrania continua also come with at least one other symptom:

  • You may experience tearing or redness of your eye on the side of your head that is affected.
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose are also possible.
  • You may notice your eyelid is drooping or your pupil is narrowed.
  • These headaches can also cause a sense of restlessness.

Causes

True (primary) chronic headaches have no known cause. Unfortunately, non-primary chronic daily headaches are not clearly understood. However, doctors do have an idea of some conditions that may cause non-primary chronic headaches.

  • Stroke or other conditions that cause inflammation of the blood vessels in and around your brain can cause headaches.
  • Certain types of infections, such as meningitis, can also be a culprit of chronic headaches.
  • Your headaches may be due to higher than normal or lower than normal intracranial pressure levels.
  • A brain tumor can also strike patients with chronic headaches.
  • Among other issues caused by traumatic brain injury, this can include chronic headaches as well.
  • Overuse of pain medication – prescription or not – can cause rebound headaches if you have episodic headache disorder and get migraines or tension headaches.

Treatments

If your headaches are due to medication overuse, slowly reducing the frequency and amount you take can help. Othertreaments may include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants can treat chronic headaches, along with other symptoms that may be co-occurring, such as anxiety and sleep problems.
  • Although they are most often used to manage high blood pressure, beta-blockers can treat chronic migraines.
  • Certain anti-seizure drugs have been shown to be effective in preventing migraines and chronic daily headaches.
  • Botox injections are most commonly used for people who suffer from migraines and/or who cannot take daily medication.
  • IV (intravenous) vitamin therapy is a more natural, non-prescription option for treating headaches. They deliver faster results than oral medications, and the course of treatment can even be given to you in your home by a trained medical professional.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, you should reach out to your doctor to learn more about which treatment options are right for you.

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