Some daily headaches start all of a sudden. Others are just headaches that gradually become more frequent. The causes of daily headaches are sometimes obvious, and other times completely unknown.
Although some people are diagnosed with chronic daily headaches, the term is very general and could refer to a variety of conditions. If you haven’t received a specific diagnosis, talk to a specialist.
Now, let’s look at some examples of causes of daily headaches:
Various Secondary Headaches
There are a whole range of secondary headaches that can be a daily problem – too many to list here. But think of pain from a tumour, a recent trauma to the head or neck, aneurysm, and cervicogenic headache.
Causes: Too numerous to mention.
Many of these headaches are serious enough that you should get to a doctor right away. But how can you tell?
If you have headaches that are getting worse day by day, or if you’re experiencing changes in headache symptoms, or if you’re getting headaches after an event you can remember (such as an accident or illness), see your doctor right away. She can help you narrow things down, and get you the treatment you need.
Most daily headaches are actually a form of chronic migraine. So why does migraine become chronic?
Causes: Genetics may be the #1 reason. Other reasons include poor treatment (using the wrong medications, or too many over the counter medications, for example), depression, obesity, or sleep disorders.
Often the cause is unknown, but migraine symptoms could also be the result of an underlying disease, or a recent physical trauma. Again, when symptoms change, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Chronic Tension-Type Headache
Some daily headaches may actually be a combination of migraine and tension-type headache.
Causes: Tension-type headaches may become chronic for similar reasons that migraine becomes chronic. But the reason often remains unknown.
In spite of its name, we now know that tension-type headaches are not simply caused by tension. The actual cause may lie deep in the brain.
New Daily-Persistent Headache (NDPH)
With NDPH, patients know the exact day when the headache began. This is not a gradual-onset type of headache.
Causes: Usually the cause is unknown. However, patients often report that the headaches started with a flu-like illness. Sometimes the start of the headache is corrolated with a stressful life event, or a surgery. Read more here: What Triggers New Daily Persistent Headache?
Hemicrania continua is a rare one-sided headache that is usually treated with indomethacin. Hemicrania continua is often misdiagnosed.
Chronic Cluster Headache
Like migraine and tension-type headache, cluster headache can become chronic.
Causes: Largely unknown. Factors may be similar to migraine, when it comes to why cluster becomes chronic.
There are other types of daily headache, but that covers the majority. In most cases, it probably won’t be immediately obvious why you start getting daily headaches.
Causes of daily headaches, if known, can be a big step toward proper treatment. If you do have some idea why your headaches have gotten worse or why they started, talk to your doctor.
Although daily headaches can increase at the same time as stress in your life, the stress is probably not the cause. It’s easy to think that the headaches are “normal” when you’re going through stress, and that they’ll get “better” when the stress goes away.
However, this can keep you from investigating what the real cause is. So be very careful before you blame daily headaches on “stress”. Lots of people under hugely stressful events are headache-free.
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