Chronic Daily Headache: Why you may have headaches every day

Enduring a headache every day can be a great inconvenience. If you suffer from daily headaches, then you may be experiencing a debilitating disorder called Chronic Daily Headache.

What is a Chronic Daily Headache?

Chronic Daily Headache occurs for fifteen or more days per month for more than three months. It has five types. So it is usually regarded as a “chronic” form of a primary headache disorder. These five types of headaches are:

  • Chronic migraine headache
  • New daily persistent headache
  • Medication overuse headache
  • Hemicrania Continua headache
  • Chronic tension-type headache

Note: Before a neurologist diagnoses you with Chronic Daily Headache, the headache must not be due to an underlying medical condition, like an infection or a tumor. Headaches due to such underlying medical conditions are called “secondary headaches”. 

Summaries of the above headache disorders according to the International Headache Society (2013) are as follows:

What is a chronic migraine headache?

Chronic migraine occurs on 15 or more days per month for at least 3 months. Alternatively, chronic migraine can also occur when, for at least 8 of those days, the person believes they are having a migraine and then have relief of their headache by taking either triptan or ergot medication.

What is a new daily persistent headache?

A new daily persistent headache occurs daily and is present all the time for more than 3 months. It is generally similar to a tension-type headache. That it is located on both sides of the head and causes a rubber-band-around-the-head sensation. One may experience photophobia, phonophobia, or mild nausea. But only one of these symptoms, not two or three. Regular physical activity does not usually worsen this headache. A feature that differentiates it from migraines.

What is medication overuse headache?

This is also known as a rebound headache. It occurs after the regular use of a headache medication for three or more months. These headache medications include NSAIDs for a tension-type headache or triptans for a migraine.

What is hemicrania continua?

Hemicrania continua is a painful, one-sided headache that occurs all the time daily without relief. It is accompanied by at least one autonomic symptom like nasal discharge, tearing of the eye, or miosis. This headache type is responsive to the NSAID – indomethacin.

What is a chronic tension-type headache?

A chronic tension-type headache feels like a tension-type headache. It occurs for fifteen or more days per month for more than three months. The headache can be continuous or can come and go for hours or days.

Interestingly, Chronic Daily Headache is more common in women and are present in about 4 percent of the adult population worldwide. Treatment and diagnosis are complicated and often involve both medication and behavioral therapy. An extensive evaluation is required by your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing headaches daily. As always, be informed and proactive in your healthcare.

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