You wake up feeling groggy and exhausted from a night of restless sleep. You stumble into the bathroom, where you’re greeted by a mirror that resembles another world. Your hair is sticking out in all angles, your eyes are bloodshot red and puffy, and the bags under your eyes say it all: chronic headaches have taken their toll on you.
While many assume daily headaches occur solely from their husband or wife, chronic headaches are anything but. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.7–4% of the world’s adult population suffer from some type of regular headache; that’s more than 316 million people.
Today, we’ll discuss what chronic headaches are, how they’re classified, and everything in between.
What Are Chronic Headaches?
A chronic headache is a type of daily headache that occurs for more than 15 days per month (or as long as the children are awake.)
As much as we’d like to believe that chronic headaches disappear as soon as the kids are in bed, it’s not always the case. In fact, they’re usually based on several factors, including stress, sleep, or certain medical conditions.
It’s important to note that this guideline does not apply if you’re experiencing symptoms from another condition, such as an illness or injury. Thus far, the most common types of chronic headaches are migraines and tension-type headaches (TTHs).
How Are Headaches Classified?
Headaches are classified by several factors, including: Pain intensity, where the pain is coming from (i.e., what part of your head), and any symptoms you’re experiencing (nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances). Typical classifications include migraine headaches or TTHs.
As previously stated, chronic headaches are defined as any headache that occurs for more than 15 days per month. In addition to this guideline, it’s necessary to note what type of pain you’re experiencing and whether or not you have a fever – all factors which can help your doctor determine whether or not you’re experiencing chronic headaches.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
While chronic headaches may not seem like a big deal, you should always consult with your doctor to discuss what’s causing them and how they impact your daily life.
Specifically, it’s crucial that you see your doctor if:
● You’re experiencing new or worsening headache symptoms (e.g., pain intensity.)
● Your treatment is no longer working.
● You have a fever, are vomiting, or are experiencing other symptoms.
● The pain is unbearable.
Common Chronic Headache Causes
While there are several risk factors associated with chronic headaches, the most common include:
Stress can be a significant factor when it comes to chronic headaches. Whether the root cause of your stress is due to high emotional or physical stress, it’s important to note that chronic headaches can occur when you’re under constant pressure.
Stress directly affects blood vessels and chemicals within our bodies that cause them to constrict or dilate – which may result in pain from head to toe. In addition, stress can impact the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which may lead to chronic migraines and headaches.
Gut issues related to food intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, lactose, or other components can lead to chronic headaches. Embryology tells us that the gut has a direct connection to the brain via nerve fibers. Therefore, the same cells that form our gut can relocate to develop our nervous system.
Your brain and your gut are inextricably linked. So much so, that your brain can sense physical signals in your gut neurons, which causes them to turn on. Likewise, digestive problems can cause daily headaches because they produce similar motions in the brain.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and it excites the central nervous system (or CNS). The CNS controls all of your autonomic functions like heart rate, digestion, and respiration. Too much caffeine can make you feel jittery, irritable, or anxious; when this happens, daily headaches will be sure to follow suit.
Chronic migraine treatments can help you find relief from daily headache symptoms by providing you with solutions for pain management, as well as a way to reduce the severity and frequency of headaches.
Many women will experience daily headaches due to fluctuations in the female hormone estrogen. In fact, some chronic migraines have been linked with a woman’s menstrual cycle and can worsen just before or during your period.
The good news is that there are several chronic migraine treatments for sufferers – all of which work by creating balance within the body.
The skeletal system provides support for the muscles in your body. However, when it comes to chronic headaches, musculoskeletal issues are linked with neck pain and tension – both of which restrict movement in the upper spine. As a result, this may lead to muscle spasms that can cause daily headache symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and migraines.
The above information should provide you with a general understanding of chronic headaches and how they may be impacting your daily life. The next step is to speak with a doctor about what’s causing the pain, as well as which chronic migraine treatments might help you find relief from these types of symptoms.
Interested in further exploring your treatment options? Schedule your complimentary consultation and exam with our doctors by clicking here or calling us at 602.603.3118. We will provide you with the best recommendation for treatment based on your unique requirements.