Headaches are an unfortunate, but common, part of life. Everyone experiences them at some point or another. For some people, though, headaches are a more frequent occurrence. At the very least, they’re distracting; at most, they can be debilitating.
Do you get frequent headaches? Our team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by Hui Kang, MD, is here to answer your questions, shed some light on a condition known as chronic daily headaches, and provide you with treatment options.
Types of headaches
There are several different types of headaches, each of which present with different symptoms. The three most common ones are cluster, migraine, and tension.
These headaches can appear sporadically and cause sharp pain, typically on one side of your head behind your eye.
Migraines are considered to be the most intense. They cause severe pain and are often accompanied by light and sound sensitivity and nausea.
Tension headaches can feel like a band is putting pressure around your head, and typically stems from stress.
These common headaches are not typically worrisome and may be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medication and rest.
If you notice you’re getting headaches more often than usual, take a moment to assess any changes in water intake, stress levels, amount of sleep, and exposure to other headache triggers.
If nothing has changed, or if you’ve made adjustments to correct dehydration, lack of sleep, or diet, you may have developed chronic daily headaches.
Types of chronic headaches
Chronic daily headaches affect approximately 1 in 20 people. You likely have this condition if you experience headaches at least 15 days out of the month for at least three months. There are five types of chronic daily headaches, including:
- Chronic migraines
- Chronic post-traumatic headaches
- Chronic tension headaches
- Hemicrania continua
- New persistent headaches
Chronic migraines and chronic tension headaches typically begin as episodic headaches that become chronic over time.
Some research suggests that genetics has a hand in the development of chronic migraines, though the cause isn’t completely understood yet. Lifestyle factors like overuse of medication can also play a role.
After sustaining any kind of head trauma, even something minor, you could develop chronic post-traumatic headaches. If you already suffer from migraines or tension headaches, you’re unfortunately more likely to develop post-traumatic headaches.
These headaches tend to resolve themselves after a few weeks or months, but some people experience them chronically.
Hemicrania continua is a rare headache disorder that occurs on just one side of your head. This type of headache is different from others because it’s accompanied by autonomic symptoms such as unequal pupils, tearing or redness in the eye on the same side the pain is occurring, or nasal congestion. Hemicrania continua is continuous and occurs daily.
New persistent headaches are just what they sound like. They appear without warning, occur daily, and lack any pain-free period. These headaches have similar symptoms to tension and migraine headaches, but are not associated with a history of headaches.
If you suspect your headaches have become chronic or if you’re experiencing new headaches, come in for a visit with headache specialist Dr. Kang.
During your visit, Dr. Kang performs a headache evaluation, which consists of several questions about the type of headaches you’re experiencing, how long they’ve been going on, your lifestyle habits, and any family history of headaches.
Once he makes an assessment, Dr. Kang works with you to determine the best course of treatment. There are several treatment options, depending on which type of headache you experience. These can include:
- Bed rest
- BotoxⓇ injections for migraines
- Occipital nerve blocks
- Third occipital nerve blocks
- Caffeine dosages
- Hot/cold compress
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medications
In some cases, putting together a preventive regimen is the best way to go. In addition to medication, Dr. Kang may recommend some lifestyle changes to help you avoid headache triggers.
Managing your stress levels and getting regular exercise are also important factors in managing your headaches.
Don’t let chronic headaches get in your way any longer. Give our Houston, Texas, office a call today.