Are you having frequent headaches that last for more than 10-15 days? If the answer is yes, there are chances that you might be suffering with Chronic Headache. Some people experience headache every day that may last up to three months. This condition is known as Chronic Daily Headache (CDH). On an average, around 4 to 5% of people suffer with this condition worldwide. 45 million Americans are affected with this condition.
Most people think that chronic headaches and severe headaches are one and the same. This is not true. Chronic means “persistent”. Depending on the severity and other factors, chronic headaches can be classified as:
- Chronic Migraine – It causes throbbing pain which is aggravated by physical activity. People with this condition are very sensitive to light and sound. Chronic migraine also causes frequent vomiting and nausea.
- Chronic Tension-type Headache – It hurts both sides of the head and causes mild to moderate pain. Exposure to light and sound aggravates this condition.
- Hemicrania Continua – This condition causes sudden spurt of pain in both the sides of the head. The intensity is mild to moderate and the pain gets worse with every passing day.
Symptoms of Chronic Headaches
People affected by chronic headaches often experience the following symptoms:
- Tightness or pressure on their head
- Pain occurs on both sides of the head and spreads down to the neck
- Headache may last from a few hours to several days
- Extreme sensitivity towards light and sound
- Loss of appetite due to the pain
The causes for chronic headache may wary from person to person. Underlying diseases or other health conditions may also be responsible for it. Causes may include:
- Inflammation of the blood vessels in and around the brain
- Meningitis or similar infections
- Intracranial pressure
- Pinched nerves in the area surrounding the neck
- Brain tumour
- Traumatic injury to the brain
- Severe stress or anxiety
- Poor posture
Chronic headache also leads to other conditions such as depression, sleep disturbance, psychological and physical problems. Depending on the severity and occurence it is best to consult a doctor. The doctor may recommend tests like X-ray, CT or MRI scans to diagnose the problem. Neurological problems and previous illness may be responsible for the pain. Treatment includes:
Antidepressants – These medicines help prevent chronic headaches. They also help in treating depression, anxiety and sleep disorder.
Painkillers – They provide temporary relief from headache. They must NOT be used on a continuous basis. It is best to use painkillers when the pain is really unbearable. Let a mild headache subside on it’s own. If it doesn’t, only then use a painkiller.
Beta blockers and Anti-seizure medications – These drugs can also help cure migraine and chronic headaches. However, they must only be taken with a valid prescription from a medical practitioner.
Nerve blocks and Trigger point injections have also shown to provide relief in some people.
Regular exercise and a Healthy Lifestyle also helps to control the occurence of chronic headache.
However, in a few cases, no form of treatment seems to work. The doctor may then ask you to undergo other tests and check for underlying causes.