Headaches involve any type of pain experienced in the upper portion of the head, and chronic pain that occurs more than 15 days per month for three months or longer is considered its own distinct disorder.
The disorder is further divided into cases involving headaches shorter than four hours and pain experienced for more than four hours at a time. Chronic daily headaches can be caused by damage to the brain itself, brain tumors, stress-related tension, malformations of the structures of the skull and brain, or overuse of pain killers that start a physiological cycle leading to more headaches.
Aside from head pain occurring nearly every day, symptoms include:
There are three types of chronic daily headaches: chronic migraine, chronic tension-type and hemicranias. Chronic headaches last longer, occur more often and deliver a higher level of pain than ordinary headaches.
The causes of chronic daily headaches can include traumatic brain injury, inflammation around the brain or viral infections followed by bacterial infections. As the bacterial infection enters the bloodstream, it travels to the brain, causing headaches. Injuries to the skull or after effects of a head surgery can cause pressure triggering the headaches.
Pressure from tension headaches makes it feel like your head is in a vice, brought on by stress or fatigue. Changes in hormones can affect the chemicals in the brain, causing a migraine headache. Migraines have a high risk influence linked to genetics compared to the other chronic daily headaches. Excessive use of prescribed or over-the-counter pain medications only aggravates the condition of chronic daily headaches.
Since chronic daily headaches are primarily a symptom and only occasionally an independent disorder, it’s essential to find the cause and treat it to stop the pain.
Medication-induced headaches will only stop after the patient carefully tapers off of the medication. Brain tumors and inflammation of certain brain structures is usually handled with a combination of intravenous medication and surgery.
For chronic daily headaches with no other medical cause, a combination of lifestyle changes and pain killers are usually used to break the cycle of recurring pain. Medication is carefully managed to ensure it doesn’t begin a cycle of chronic headaches all its own. Most patients manage to reduce or eliminate headaches by working to control stress, exercise regularly, eat a better diet, and practice good sleep hygiene.
Your best prevention of chronic daily headaches is to avoid the triggers. A change in lifestyle habits can help to reduce and eliminate the symptoms of chronic daily headaches. Learn how to sleep through the night without medications and limit your daily intake of caffeine. Eating a healthy diet with a balanced exercise routine can also eliminate stress and illness.
Regular visits with your doctor help to keep you fit and healthy. Be vigilant against infections or bacteria that trigger these headaches. Call your doctor immediately, if you are not feeling well. Learn about your family history too—genetics play a significant role in this condition.
Talk with your doctor before taking any type of medication for the condition and be sure to share any disturbing reactions. If you are experiencing medication side effects, your doctor can help by adjusting the dosage or changing the medicine.