What are Chronic Headaches?
Chronic headaches are defined as daily headaches occurring at least 15 days out of the month, and they consistently occur for at least three months. These headaches can last for many hours or even days. Chronic headaches can be broken up into four primary categories:
- Chronic migraines
- Chronic tension type headaches
- Daily persistent headaches
- Hemicrania continua
What causes Chronic Headaches?
Unfortunately, doctors are unsure of exactly what causes most headaches. However, there are some contributing factors surrounding chronic headaches, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Sensory triggers such as bright lights, loud noises and overwhelming scents/aromas
Chronic headaches can also be related to illnesses such as:
- Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)
- Throat infection
- Ear infection
In some cases, headaches can result from a blow to the head. In order to get to the bottom of what is causing your headache patterns, you may want to keep a headache diary to share with your doctor.
What are the symptoms of Chronic Headaches?
Understanding Chronic Migraines
Chronic migraines are defined as migraines that take place at least eight days out of every month over the course of three months or more. Some of the symptoms of migraines include:
- Pain that affects either side or both sides of your head
- Pulsating, throbbing sensation
- Moderate to severe pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light sensitivity
- Sound sensitivity
- Sensitivity to physical activity and motion
If you are dealing with chronic migraines, you understand that a migraine is more than just a list of symptoms. Even as you read this, you may be feeling a dull headache pushing into the space above your eyes. This sensation is not new for you. It is the same pain that you had yesterday, the day before that, the week before that, and the month before that. It is likely that the pain you experience during a migraine takes over your life.
Understanding Chronic Tension Type Headaches
Chronic tension headaches usually have the following symptoms:
- Pain that is felt on both sides of the head
- The pain ranges from moderate to mild
- The pain causes a pressing or a tightening sensation, but you do not feel it pulsating
- These headaches are not aggravated by increased physical activity
- In rare instances, you will experience skull tenderness
If you are currently dealing with a chronic tension type headache, you know that this simple list of symptoms does not adequately describe what you feel. Chronic tension type headaches affect your work, and they affect your travel to and from work. One of the most frustrating things about chronic tension headaches is that it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose. You might visit the doctor repeatedly only to be told that your headaches are caused by stress.
Every doctor’s visit that does not produce results leaves you feeling deflated and frustrated. After a while, you might feel as if you are a hypochondriac or as if you are inventing the pain.
While tension a headache will not cause your head to explode, there are many times when you likely felt like you wish it would.
For migraine sufferers, the pain begins to define who and what they are. You lose your sense of self. You no longer remember who you were before getting migraines, what you used to talk about, and the things you liked to do.
Understanding Daily Persistent Headaches
These headaches appear suddenly and affect individuals who do not have a history of headaches. After the first episode, the headaches become constant. They are characterized by:
- Pain on both sides of the head
- Pressing or tightening sensation
- Mild to moderate pain
Understanding Hemicrania Continua
This type of headache is characterized by the following:
- Pain on one side of your head
- Pain that is daily, constant, with no pain free periods
- Pain that is moderate with occasional bursts of extreme pain
- Can lead to migraine-like symptoms
- Drooping eyelids
- Eye redness and tearing
- Sensation of restlessness
Since Hemicrania Continua can be temporarily treated with painkillers, many sufferers find themselves doubling, tripling, and then quadrupling the number of over-the-counter painkillers they are taking.
If you are dealing with these types of headaches, you understand how relentless, ruthless, and unforgiving the pain is.
Treating and Diagnosing Chronic Headaches
Chronic headaches have the ability to devastate your life like very few other forms of pain can. It affects your ability to think, see, smell, and to deal rationally with others.
During our years of experience, we have worked with many individuals suffering chronic headaches. The first thing we do is listen to our clients as they express the pain they are experiencing.
Next, we work with them to create a personalized, individualized treatment routine. Our first goal is to stop the immediate pain. Our long-term goal is to either completely remove the pain or provide you with techniques that help you manage it.
Chronic headaches do not need to control your life. You can control them, and we can help.