Headache is defined as an uncomfortable sensation on the head or neck area. Headaches usually manifest as pain on the forehead, scalp and behind the eyes. Headaches do not really involve the brain, but the pain sensitive areas around the head, which includes the skull, nerves, muscles, veins, subcutaneous layer, ears, eyes, sinuses and mucous membranes.
Headaches are usually occasional, but can be chronic and may occur every day. Headache everyday may be a sign of more severe conditions that would warrant special interventions.
There are different types of headache that may occur on a regular basis. These include:
- Migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are a severe form of headache that causes other symptoms such as nausea and changes in vision. Migraine headaches are throbbing in nature and occur on one side of the head and may spread to both sides. This type of headache is usually preceded by an aura and increases in intensity upon movement. Migraine headaches are also triggered by a lot of factors such as food, lack of sleep, caffeine and alcohol.
- Rebound Headache
Rebound headaches are headaches that keep on coming back. This type of headache can be caused by overuse of analgesics of more than three days a week.
- Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches are a characteristic headache involving one or more parts of the head that occur for several days and may last up to months. The headache usually disappears for a similar period of time then reoccurs again.
- Sinus headache
Sinus headaches are caused by the swelling of the sinus. The headache is usually present on the forehead and the cheek area.
Causes of Recurrent Headaches
Headaches that occur every day may be a sign of more chronic conditions such as:
- Cervicogenic causes
Muscle spasms on the neck tend to radiate to the head and cause recurrent headaches. Problems on the neck muscles may be related to cervical etiology such as the presence of degenerative joint disorders.
- Medication overuse
As discussed earlier, the frequent use of analgesics or painkillers leads to a rebound effect causing frequent headaches. This causes the patient to take analgesics again and the cycle repeats itself.
- Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
The presence of bleeding inside the cranium is one dangerous cause of recurrent headaches or persistent headaches. This condition leads to a thunderclap headache, or a headache that suddenly appears intense in just a matter of minutes.
- Cranial Infections
The development of meningitis or encephalitis may also cause persistent headache because of a continuous elevation of intracranial pressure. Meningitis or encephalitis usually is preceded by an upper respiratory infection that has not been resolved or trauma to the skull that caused microorganisms to enter.
- Brain Tumor
Tumors usually take up space in the cranium, which causes the intracranial pressure to increase. Brain tumors usually lead to migraine headache type, which is severe and recurrent.
- Angle Closure Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the increase in the pressure in the intraocular space. The pain may radiate at the back of the eyes and at the forehead. Unless glaucoma is treated, headaches tend to recur for period of days or weeks.
- Medication use
The use of medications with headache as a side-effect such as nitroglycerin may also cause daily headache as long as the medication is taken.
Treatment of Persistent Headache
The primary treatment of recurrent headache is eradicating the cause. Several managements have been studied to reduce daily headache that do not respond to analgesics. These include:
Acupuncture has been proven to relieve chronic headache. This is associated with the relaxation of the muscles and nerves that causes pain. Your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor now offers acupuncture as well.
- Preventive Treatment
Chronic or daily headache can be managed using medications that are taken on a daily basis to prevent the recurrence of headache. The medication can be taken as long as 3 to 6 months. Preventive medications include gabapentin, fluoxetine, amitriptillyne, topiramate and tizanidine. Depending on the specific cause, these medications are given in the lowest possible dosage.
Drinking analgesics on a daily basis for daily headaches may not be advised because of increased risk in gastrointestinal irritation. Daily intake of analgesics may also lead to rebound effects.