Long-term headaches that keep coming and going away or persistent headaches are also referred to as chronic headaches. Many people deal with recurring or persistent headaches on a daily or weekly basis, which can have a major impact on the daily lives of those affected. Living with long-term headaches is therefore a heavy burden that must be taken seriously and appropriate treatment sought.
Types of headaches
There are specific types of headaches, each of which can have a different cause.
A headache that is common to many people is migraine. Migraine can occur in a mild form but also in a severe form, where the patient is literally disabled and has to wait until the attack is over. Migraine is a recurring headache that can have various causes.
Another serious form of long-term headache is cluster headache. This long-lasting form of headache can occur in periods of 3 weeks to 16 consecutive weeks. The cluster headache then comes in severe attacks every day, which can vary from fifteen minutes to a number of hours.
Tension headaches can also take a long-term form and can become chronic, requiring treatment to achieve a breakthrough and reduce the headache.
Causes of headaches
Headache is a common complaint and can manifest itself in different ways. There are different types of headaches, each with a different cause. Anyone can get a headache from time to time, and very severe pain can even lead to prompt medical attention being sought to reduce the excruciating pain. Unfortunately, the causes are often not addressed. If the headache persists for a long time or is repetitive, it is better to take a closer look at what the underlying causes of this headache may be.
- Muscle aches. Headaches are often caused by excessive muscle tension, especially in the neck and/or shoulders. This is usually called a tension headache.
- Dehydration. This can also cause a headache, for example after heavy exertion or after drinking too much in the evening
- Blood sugar. The blood sugar level, also known as glucose level in the blood, can also cause headaches, especially when this level is too low. The brain uses glucose as its main source of energy, and if there is too little glucose, the brain will experience an energy shortage, which can cause headaches.
- Eye disorders. There are certain eye conditions that can cause headaches, for example if someone has a lazy eye or weak eye muscles that make it very difficult to concentrate properly. This takes so much effort that you get a headache. Eye strain can also contribute to this.
- Meningitis. Meningitis, also called meningitis, is an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain and is a very serious condition. If not treated immediately, meningitis can even result in death. Please note that meningitis in its early stages can resemble a simple flu, but especially if there is severe neck stiffness this can be a sign of meningitis.
- Sinusitis. Sometimes sinusitis can be a cause of frequent headaches; this should especially be taken into account if severe pain occurs behind the cheekbones or above the bridge of the nose. Steaming or painkillers can often be used to suppress the pain. If the eyes also become red and the pain does not seem to diminish, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
- Flu. Because fever often occurs with flu, this can also be a cause of headaches.
Headache as a symptom
In most cases, physical complaints are not the main cause of headaches, other factors are usually the cause of headaches. This includes stress, sleep deprivation, depression or poor posture. There are also people who think that artificial radiation can cause headaches, for example radiation from mobile phones, television or computers. A headache can also be a symptom of a more serious condition, for example:
- Liver and biliary disorders
- Kidney ailments
- Cardiovascular diseases
- High or low blood pressure
- Rheumatic diseases, osteoarthritis
- Brain tumor
Treatment for long-term headaches
When headaches take the form of long-term headaches and self-help remedies such as painkillers no longer help, it is time to visit the doctor. There are several types of medications that can be effective for headaches. The choice of medication will depend on the type of headache.
For migraine, precautions can be taken if the cause of the onset of migraine is known, but this is often not sufficient. The doctor can prescribe so-called triptans for migraine, which have been specially developed for this form of long-term headache and are available in different forms, where the speed of action can differ.
A medication such as triptan can also provide a solution for the treatment of cluster headaches, but for people who suffer from such headaches, inhaling pure oxygen can also provide relief.
In the case of tension headaches, the cause must first be identified before a solution can be found. The cause of this long-lasting headache may be stress, chronic sleep deprivation or poor posture, which causes the muscles to be too tense.
Long-term headache and the headache clinic
If it appears that the GP’s advice and prescribed medications do not provide a solution, the GP may refer the patient to a headache clinic. Many hospitals have a separate headache center, where people with long-term headaches can go for further examination and treatment.