Medication And Painkiller Headaches
Some headaches are a side effect of taking a particular medication. Frequent headaches can also be caused by taking too many painkillers. This is known as a painkiller or medication-overuse headache.
A medication-overuse headache will usually get better within a few weeks once you stop taking the painkillers that are causing it. But, pain may get worse for a few days before it starts to improve.
When Do Chronic Migraines Become A Chronic Headache
Chronic migraines tend to: And they cause at least one of the following: These headaches tend to: Cause pain that feels pressing or tightening, but not pulsating These headaches come on suddenly, usually in people without a headache history. They become constant within three days of your first headache. They:
What Are Rebound Migraines
Women who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days out of the month can set off a cycle called rebound. As each dose of medicine wears off, the pain comes back, leading the patient to take even more. This overuse causes your medicine to stop helping your pain and actually start causing headaches. Rebound headaches can occur with both over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief medicines. They can also occur whether you take them for headache or for another type of pain. Talk to your doctor if you’re caught in a rebound cycle.
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What Causes Chronic Headaches
The most common trigger of chronic headaches is stress, and stress can come from just about anything including: Chronic stress can lead to other chronic conditions such as anxiety or depression, both of which can cause chronic daily headaches. Chronic stress can also cause tension in the muscles of the neck which can cause tension-type headaches.
When To See A Doctor About Your Headaches
A headache here and there may not be too much of a concern. But if you are experiencing frequent or severe headaches, or if they’re affecting your quality of life, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
He or she can help you identify what’s triggering your headaches and suggest ways to prevent them in the future. Additionally, your doctor can evaluate you to rule out whether your headaches might be considered chronic, benefit from medications or have a secondary cause.
“Headaches can sometimes be a sign or symptom of underlying disease. From ear infections and high blood pressure to life-threatening disease, there are numerous health issues that can manifest with a headache,” warns Dr. Ayish. “This is why it’s important to always consult your doctor if you’re experiencing frequent or severe headaches.”
In some cases, a headache may even be a medical emergency. Seek immediate help if a headache:
- Comes on suddenly and very quickly becomes severe
- Feels like the worst headache in your life
- Is accompanied by a stiff neck and/or fever
- Is accompanied by a seizure, fainting, confusion or changes in personality
- Begins right after an injury
- Is accompanied by weakness, numbness or vision changes
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What Causes A Migraine
The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.
Who Gets Aura Without Head Pain
Migraine aura without pain or silent migraine is fairly unusual. Only 4 out of every 100 people who get migraines have aura without pain and no other kind of migraine. However, 40 percent of people who have migraine with aura will have only aura symptoms and no pain at some point in their life.2
Migraine aura without pain is more common in women than men and tends to begin later in life. When it begins after age 60 it is called late-onset migraine accompaniment.2
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So What Does It Mean If You Have Constant Headaches
Technically, for your headaches to be considered chronic, they need to go on for 15 days or longer per month, for at least three consecutive months, SELF reported previously. That being said, if you have recurring headaches for, say, two weeks, that doesnt mean you should discount your painyou should still see your doctor.
The causes of constant, headacheswhether tension or migrainerange from totally minor to pretty major. Here are 10 things your headaches could be telling you about your health.
Other Types Of Headaches
Other rare types of headaches include these varieties:
- Cluster Headache These intensely painful headaches last 15 to 180 minutes without treatment and happen in cycles, or clusters.
- Paroxysmal Hemicranias Severe, sometimes throbbing pain on one side of the face or around the eyes lasts 2 to 30 minutes and occurs more than 5 times a day.
- Ice-Pick Headache As the name implies, an ice-pick headache is a migraine characterized by stabbing pain. Fortunately, it is relatively uncommon and typically short in duration.
- Intractable Headache Any headache, including migraine, that doesn’t respond to treatment.
- Occipital Neuralgia This disorder causes pain in the back of the head and upper neck.
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Foods And Food Additives
Certain foods and beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages, can be triggers. The flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate can also be a trigger, as can caffeine.
Foods containing the amino acid tyramine have been associated with migraine onset. Examples include aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, certain beans, and red wine.
The nitrates in cured meats such as bacon, hot dogs, salami, and other lunch meats are a trigger for some.
Research has also suggested that the artificial sweeteners aspartame and sucralose can be triggers.
And for some people, fruits such as avocados, bananas, and citrus as well as some nuts and seeds can trigger migraine.
Missing or skipping meals can trigger attacks, too.
One approach to discovering migraine food triggers is to try an elimination diet, in which certain foods are eliminated from the diet for a few weeks, then reintroduced one at a time to see whether a migraine attack occurs.
However, a given food does not always trigger a migraine attack sometimes another trigger, such as a change in the weather, also has to be present for an attack to take place. Or a certain amount of food has to be consumed before it has an effect, according to an article published in June 2020 in the journal Nutrients.
For that reason, most experts recommend consulting your physician before trying an elimination diet for migraine and, if you do decide to try it, working with a registered dietitian to maintain good nutrition.
Impact Of Chronic Migraine
If you have chronic migraine it will have a huge impact on your daily life. Chronic migraine is related to greater disability and has a huge impact on your physical, social and work life. It can also have a huge impact on your relationships. Many people with chronic migraine report lower quality of life and poorer health than people with episodic migraine.
It can be challenging to find an appropriate treatment and you may have spent years trying to find a way to make your migraine manageable.
If you are struggling with chronic migraine speak to your GP, specialist or contact our Helpline.
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What Kind Of Headaches Does Covid
However, these estimates vary greatly based on the group thats being observed. For example, some studies have reported headache in
surveyed 262 people with confirmed COVID-19 that included headache as a symptom. The survey respondents reported experiencing headaches that:
- typically affected both sides of the head
- could be felt as a variety of different sensations, including pulsing, pressing, or stabbing
- lasted a long time, sometimes over 72 hours
- were more resistant to pain relieving medications
- often occurred along with other COVID-19 symptoms like loss of taste and smell or digestive symptoms
- felt different from their typical headaches
Headache can also be a symptom of post COVID-19 condition, or long COVID. An reviewed 28 studies and 7 pre-print studies. It found that the prevalence of persistent headache in the 6 months after COVID-19 illness was between 8 and 15 percent.
You Have A Sinus Infection
Sinus headaches are not that common, Dr. Hutchinson notes. “Most sinus headaches are just migraines with sinus symptoms,” she says. So if you have recurrent headaches in your sinus or facial area, chances are it’s a migraine or a tension headache. In fact, studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of people who see a doctor for sinus headaches are found to actually have migraines, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While both migraines and sinus infections cause pain when you bend forward, sinus infections dont typically feature nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light, the Mayo Clinic says. But if your headache is paired with fever, phlegm, or any other indication you might be sick, an underlying sinus infection may be to blame.
Fix it: If you do have a sinus infection, the headache should go away after taking antibiotics to knock out the infectionso pay a visit to your physician.
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The Link Between Caffeine And Everyday Headaches
Does caffeine cause those constant headaches or does it cure them? The answer: both. Caffeine is a double-edged sword, Mauskop says. Over-the-counter medicines often include caffeine. However, headaches can worsen as a result of withdrawal mechanisms, as every regular coffee drinker probably knows. But it can help in small amounts.Caffeine causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow, which is exactly the opposite of what happens when youre having a headache or migraine. The pain-relieving effect is significantly improved when combined with acetaminophen and aspirin, which, thankfully, are over-the-counter painkillers.However, too much caffeine can cause a rebound effect, which can trigger a headache. If youre drinking multiple cups of coffee a day, that could be to blame if youre getting a headache every day. The National Headache Foundation recommends a daily caffeine intake of 200 milligrams or less. If youre a regular coffee or tea drinker, you might want to monitor your intake to make sure that youre under that number. A single cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 125 to 200 milligrams, so consider switching to a half-caff or decaf option if youve got a serious habit.
The Types Of Chronic Daily Headaches
There are five types of chronic daily headaches, according to Dr. Soni. They are:
- Chronic migraines.
- Hemicrania continua.
Chronic migraines are similar to episodic migraines, Dr. Soni says. We know migraines are a genetic disorder that involves the dysregulation of neurotransmitters, inflammation and excitable electrical activity in the brain.
While migraines are generally an episodic disorder meaning youll have a migraine headache followed by periods where you have no pain its possible for them to transition to chronic migraines. There are epidemiological studies that claim that episodic migraines become chronic for about 2.5% of migraine patients each year, Dr. Soni notes. Its just kind of the natural course of the disease.
Another potential cause for the transition, she says, are lifestyle factors. For instance, the overuse of either prescription or over-the-counter headache medications can lead to whats known as a medication overuse headache. As your body adapts to the constant use of these medications to manage the pain, the headaches become more frequent and more severe, developing into an almost daily occurrence.
Dr. Soni also says that some research indicates there might be a genetic predisposition for developing chronic migraines, but that cause isnt as well understood yet.
Chronic tension-type headache
Chronic post-traumatic headache
New daily persistent headache
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When Your Everyday Headaches Mean You Need A Doctor
If youre unable to treat your constant headache issues on your own, see your doctor. Alternative treatments are tempting, but in severe circumstances, medical intervention is absolutely essential.Treatment options include abortive drugs that you take as needed, just as you would with an over-the-counter drug, Mauskop says. There are things like Imitrex and similar drugs in that category.What about migraines? A 2014 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that Botoxyes, that Botoxreduced the number of headache and migraine days, and increased the number of headache free days while significantly improving patients quality of life.If youre skeptical about Botox, Mauskop says that patients will soon have other options. Theres a new category of drugs coming out this summer that have been subjected to all of the phases of testing, he says. Theyre called monoclonal antibodies, and they bind to a chemical that releases the headaches for up to three months.Monoclonal antibodies have been hailed as a breakthrough migraine therapy, and theyre part of a new class of immunotherapy treatments. If youre truly suffering from headaches every day, doctors have a variety of ways to help patients treat severe daily headaches. If youve tried meditation, exercise, and supplementation, and even OTC pain meds arent doing a thing, get to the doctor its worth getting checked out.
Why Am I Waking Up With A Migraine
Theres a close relationship between sleep and migraines. Disruptions in your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can trigger attacks, and, in turn, migraines can interrupt your sleep patterns. Its little wonder that those with sleep disorders are more likely to experience this condition.
Disruptions in sleep due to several disorders can be at the root of your morning migraine, including:
- Insomnia: This disorder is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is because both insomnia and migraine may be due to the activity of some of the same brain regions and neurotransmitters.
- Obstructive sleep apnea:Interrupted breathing while youre asleep characterizes this condition. It can cause snoring, cold sweats, sudden waking, and excessive nighttime urination.
- Teeth grinding:If you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism, muscular pain around the temporomandibular jointthe hinge that connects your jaw to the skullcan cause headaches to flare up.
Though they can happen at any time of day, migraines most commonly arise in the morning hours, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Whats behind your morning migraine attack? Several factors may be at play.
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Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse
In some women, birth control pills improve migraine. The pills may help reduce the number of attacks and their attacks may become less severe. But in other women, the pills may worsen their migraines. In still other women, taking birth control pills has no effect on their migraines.
The reason for these different responses is not well understood. For women whose migraines get worse when they take birth control pills, their attacks seem to occur during the last week of the cycle. This is because the last seven pills in most monthly pill packs don’t have hormones they are there to keep you in the habit of taking your birth control daily. Without the hormones, your body’s estrogen levels drop sharply. This may trigger migraine in some women.
Talk with your doctor if you think birth control pills are making your migraines worse. Switching to a pill pack in which all the pills for the entire month contain hormones and using that for three months in a row can improve headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as getting on a regular sleep pattern and eating healthy foods, can help too.
Certain Medications Or Supplements
Headaches are also a side effect of some over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. While you may want to take medication for the head pain, that can contribute to a cycle of chronic headaches. Alternatively, overnight withdrawal from the drug can trigger a headache in the morning.
Drugs that can contribute to headaches include:
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In Rare Cases Constant Headaches Could Be A Sign Of A Brain Tumor
Googling your headache symptoms may result in a self-diagnosis of brain tumor. A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells on your brain, and they can be either cancerous or benign the Mayo Clinic says. Rest assured: They’re rare, so chances are you don’t have one. But its a possibility, and something you don’t want to miss, Dr. Hutchinson says. “If a patients had a regular headache pattern and it hasnt changed, it’s usually not a red flag,” she says. But if headaches are a new thing for you, are the most severe you’ve ever experienced, or are changing or worsening over time, these are signs your doctor may order a brain scan. But if you’re ever worried about what’s causing your headaches, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.
What Is Chronic Migraine
Chronic migraine is defined as having headache on at least 15 days per month, with eight of these having migraine symptoms, for at least three months. People who have fewer headache days with migraine symptoms have episodic migraine.
If you have chronic migraine your symptoms may include:
- frequent headache
- increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells
- vomiting .
Other symptoms include aura , dizziness and vertigo .
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Develop Good Sleep Habits
Restful sleep delivers a refreshed feeling in the morning, improved mood, cognitive function, physical energy and perhaps most importantly for chronic migraine patients an increased threshold for pain.
To improve your sleep hygiene consider some or all of the following to start experiencing the benefits:
- Setup a sleep routine: have consistent bed and wake times.
- Avoid stimuli before bed: this includes LED lights which contain stimulating light and can negatively affect melatonin production. The TV, phone and computer all emit this light.
- Temperature control: Keep the bedroom cool. The body falls asleep easier when the body temperature cools.
- Eat a few hours before bed: give your body time to empty your stomach. Avoid eating sweets or sugary foods before bed that cause large spikes in your blood sugar levels.
- Exercise during the day.
- Keep your room dark and quiet.