How Can You Prevent Chronic Headaches
While the cause of these headaches is unclear, research suggests that you can do some things to help prevent them or at least reduce their intensity:
- Avoid headache triggers. Keep track of things that appear to result in headaches, including foods you eat, activities you are doing, and the environment in which the headaches occur. If you can identify your headache triggers, you can try to avoid them.
- Do not overuse medication. Using headache medications more than twice a week can increase the frequency and severity of headaches. If you have been taking medication for a long time, consult a doctor about weaning yourself off. Some medicines cannot be stopped cold turkey.
- Get a good nights sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Its best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you have trouble sleeping, see a doctor.
- Dont skip meals. Eat healthy meals and avoid food or beverages that seem to trigger headaches. Lose weight if youre obese.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity can improve your physical and mental well-being and reduce stress. With your doctors OK, choose activities you enjoy, like walking or cycling.
- Reduce stress. Stress is a common trigger of chronic headaches. Try stress-reduction techniques, like yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
- Cut back on caffeine. Some headache medications include caffeine because they can help to reduce headache pain. But it can also aggravate headaches. Try reducing or eliminating caffeine.
How Is Migraine Diagnosed
Theres no single test that can lead to a diagnosis of migraine. Rather, your doctor will take your medical history, as well as obtain your family history of migraine, and perform a physical and neurological exam. Your healthcare provider may order certain blood tests and imaging tests to rule out other causes of headache. Keep a detailed log of your symptoms to help with diagnosis.
How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine has no cure. But your migraines can be managed with your doctor’s help. Together, you will find ways to treat migraine symptoms when they happen, as well as ways to help make your migraines less frequent and severe. Your treatment plan may include some or all of these methods.
Medicine. There are two ways to approach the treatment of migraines with drugs: stopping a migraine in progress and prevention. Many people with migraine use both forms of treatment.
Acute treatment. Over-the-counter pain-relief drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or NSAIDs like ibuprofen relieve mild migraine pain for some people. If these drugs don’t work for you, your doctor might want you to try a prescription drug. Two classes of drugs that doctors often try first are:
- Triptans, which work by balancing the chemicals in the brain. Examples include sumatriptan , rizatriptan , zolmitriptan , almotriptan , eletriptan , naratriptan , and frovatriptan . Triptans can come as tablets that you swallow, tablets that dissolve on your tongue, nasal sprays, and as a shot. They should not be used if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Ergot derivatives , which work in the same way as triptans. They should not be used if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.
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When Should You See A Doctor
Occasional headaches usually require no special medical attention. However, you should consult a doctor if you:
- Consistently have two or more headaches a week.
- Take pain reliever for your headaches on most days.
- Need more than the recommended dose of over-the-counter medicines to relieve headache pain.
- Experience changes in the pattern of your headaches, or they get worse.
- Find the headaches are disabling.
Seek immediate medical care if your headache:
- Is sudden and severe.
- Is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking.
- Occurs after a head injury.
- Gets worse after you rest and take pain medication.
Get The Care You Need
If your chronic headache is sudden and severe and associated with one of the symptoms above, you should call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. If you suffer from more common chronic headaches, visit your doctor for advice. If you do not have a doctor, Grady Health System can help. If you need a primary care physician, call us at . Well arrange an appointment at a Primary Care Center near you. Doctors there can treat most conditions and provide access to Gradys unparalleled medical specialty expertise.
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.
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.
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When To Worry About A Headache
You can take care of many types of headaches by yourself, and your doctor can give you medication to control most of the tougher headaches. But some headaches call for prompt medical care. Here are some warning signs for when you should worry about headaches:
- Headaches that first develop after age 50
- A major change in the pattern of your headaches
- An unusually severe headache
- Head pain that increases with coughing or movement
- Headaches that get steadily worse
- Changes in personality or mental function
- Headaches that are accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased alertness or memory, or neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizures
- Headaches that are accompanied by a painful red eye
- Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
- Headaches after a blow to the head
- Headaches that prevent normal daily activities
- Headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
- Headaches in patients with cancer or impaired immune systems
Can Migraine Be Worse During Menopause
If your migraine headaches are closely linked to your menstrual cycle, menopause may make them less severe. As you get older, the nausea and vomiting may decrease as well. About two-thirds of women with migraines report that their symptoms improve with menopause.
But for some women, menopause worsens migraine or triggers them to start. It is not clear why this happens. Menopausal hormone therapy, which is prescribed for some women during menopause, may be linked to migraines during this time. In general, though, the worsening of migraine symptoms goes away once menopause is complete.
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Bacterial And Viral Infections
If you have a headache accompanied by dizziness, you may just have a bug thats going around. These are both common symptoms when your bodys exhausted and trying to fight off an infection. In addition, severe congestion and taking over-the-counter cold medicines can also cause a headache and dizziness in some people.
Examples of bacterial and viral infections that can cause a headache and dizziness include:
Labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own within a week or two.
What Are The Treatment Options
When we think about headache treatment, we tend to think about a reactive approach: You develop a headache, you take the over-the-counter medication of your choice and you go on about your day.
With these chronic-type headaches, though, Dr. Soni says its all about getting ahead of the headaches in the first place with preventive treatment.
Preventive treatment is typically medication you take every day, regardless of whether or not you have a headache that day, she says. The goal is reducing the overall number of headaches you have.
If youre taking OTC medications more than two days a week to manage headache pain, she adds, you need to talk to your healthcare provider about switching to this prevention medicine.
For these two kinds of chronic headaches, Dr. Soni says that some of the more effective migraine treatments include medications typically used for seizures, blood pressure and depression. Theres also been some overlap in using those to treat tension-type headaches, but she adds, Tension-type headaches may respond a little bit better to some of the seizure or antidepressant medications as well was muscle relaxers.
Based on symptoms, treatment for post-traumatic and new daily headaches generally follows the treatment as migraines or tension-type headaches, she says.
For hemicrania continua, Dr. Soni says that patients typically respond to an anti-inflammatory medicine called indomethacin.
What are additional ways to manage these headaches?
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How Can My Headache Be Managed
Many people who experience regular headaches will recognise some of the signs that a headache is about to come on. This might be the right time to take any medicines you have been prescribed by your doctor, or purchased over the counter. It may also help to try:
- lying down in a dark, quiet room
- placing a cold or warm cloth on the back of your neck or on your forehead
- taking a walk in fresh air
Your doctor or pharmacist can help you work out if you need medicine for your headache and the best time to take it.
Is There A Treatment For Headaches Everyday
Treatment for constant headaches will be different for everybody. It depends on the type of headache you are experiencing. Your doctor will work with you to determine which treatment will be optimal for you.
If your doctor cannot determine an underlying cause for your headache, they will prescribe pain medications against your headache symptoms. At the Migraine Institute in Plano, Texas, our migraine experts will work closely with patients to determine their headache triggers and help them manage their symptoms.
Some treatments for constant headaches include:
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Get Headache Treatment In Independence Mo
If youre struggling with recurring or morning headaches, or suffer from persistent headaches but have yet to find a treatment that helps, please book an appointment with our Independence, MO dentist. TMJ treatment or sleep apnea treatment might be exactly what you need to find relief. We will help you get diagnosed and then find the best treatment solution for your needs. Contact our Lees Summit dental office at to book an appointment with Dr. Pribyl or Dr. Kleoppel today.
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.
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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.
Why You Might Have Daily Headaches
Doctors still dont know what exactly causes daily headache symptoms. Some possible causes include one or a combination of the following:
- Trigeminal nerve activation. The trigeminal nerve is a major nerve thats found in your head and face. One of its functions is sending sensory information from the various structures and tissues in these areas to the brain. Activation of this nerve can lead to the symptoms of many types of headache.
- Muscle tension. Tightening of the muscles of the head and neck can create tension and lead to headache pain.
- Hormones. Changes in the levels of certain hormones, such as estrogen, are associated with the onset of some types of headache. For example, naturally occurring changes in estrogen levels likely play a role in the increased prevalence of migraine in women.
- Genetics. Although more research is needed, experts believe that genetics can influence your susceptibility to certain types of headache, particularly migraine.
Regardless of the exact mechanism, its known that headaches are often triggered by lifestyle or environmental factors. A few examples include:
Experts currently believe that constant, or chronic, headaches result when an episodic headache disorder transforms into a chronic one. While the mechanisms behind this change are poorly understood, some risk factors for the transition from episodic to chronic headache include:
- overuse of pain medication
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Blood Clots And Vascular Disease
Blood clots that form in or near the brain called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, can also cause chronic headaches. These blood clots can cause increased intracranial pressure which in turn causes a headache that is constant and gets progressively worse as the pressure in the skull rises.
Other vascular diseases such as giant cell arteritis and severe arterial hypertension can also cause chronic headaches. But with vascular disease, the headaches typically get gradually and progressively worse. In some cases, however, people can develop a sudden excruciating headache called a thunderclap headache.
What Should I Do When A Migraine Begins
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:
- If you take migraine medicine, take it right away.
- Drink fluids, if you don’t have nausea during your migraine.
- Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical.
Some people find the following useful:
- A cold cloth on your head
- Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Massage or other relaxation exercises
Can Stress Cause Migraines
Yes. Stress can trigger both migraine and tension-type headache. Events like getting married, moving to a new home, or having a baby can cause stress. But studies show that everyday stresses not major life changes cause most headaches. Juggling many roles, such as being a mother and wife, having a career, and financial pressures, can be daily stresses for women.
Making time for yourself and finding healthy ways to deal with stress are important. Some things you can do to help prevent or reduce stress include:
- Eating healthy foods
- Doing relaxation exercises
- Getting enough sleep
Try to figure out what causes you to feel stressed. You may be able to cut out some of these stressors. For example, if driving to work is stressful, try taking the bus or subway. You can take this time to read or listen to music, rather than deal with traffic. For stressors you can’t avoid, keeping organized and doing as much as you can ahead of time will help you to feel in control.
Headaches That Wake You Up
Another sign of a headache you shouldnt ignore is a headache that wakes you up. If the pain is so bad that it impacts your sleep and causes you to wake up, this means a serious health problem could be occurring. If you dont have headaches that wake you up but headaches that feel worse at night , this is also a concern. Very often headaches can worsen when you sleep due to your mandible falling backward at night. This puts pressure on blood vessels and nerves, contributing to head pain.
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Many people are surprised to discover that their daily headaches are actually a symptom of hypertension, Mikhael says. The extra pressure of your blood increases the pressure inside your head, causing a chronic headache. Fortunately, treating the high blood pressure with medication or lifestyle changes will automatically cure this type of headache.
Pain in your teeth, from decay or disease, or pain in your jaw, from tightness or TMJ, can show up as a headache in the top of your head, he explains. It’s called “referred pain” and is a very common symptom of dental issues. You should already be seeing your dentist on the regular but if you have a headache that won’t quit, it’s worth popping in for another check-up.