Chronic Headache || Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

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The people suffering from ongoing and repeated problems related to headaches are known as chronic headache.

About four to five percent of people suffer from this type of headaches.

This type of headache is classified as a primary or secondary headache.

Primary chronic headaches develop in people on their own and includes migraine or tension headaches and increases gradually.

Secondary chronic headache is caused due to some injury or other conditions.

Chronic Headache

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Chronic Headache Causes:

  • Changes in the nervous system due to frequent headaches.
  • Injury or painful stimulation of the upper spine.
  • Medication overuse.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels.
  • Infection.
  • Genetic predisposition to increased pain sensitivity.

Types of Chronic Headache:

Chronic migraine headache – Chronic migraine headache is caused due to changes in surrounding blood vessels and brain changes and affects about 15 percent of the population.

Chronic tension headache – This type of headache mainly affects both sides of the head and may include mild nausea and dizziness.

Signs and Symptoms:

Chronic headaches last for more than 15 days in a month, and symptoms depend on the type of chronic headache.

Chronic migraine headache – The patient experiences headache in one or both sides of the head or neck and face.

This type of headache leads to anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances.

Chronic tension headache – This headache lasts for days, weeks or years and involves headache in both sides of the head and back of the head and neck.

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Risk Factors of Chronic Headaches:

Various factors can increase the risk of chronic headaches, and they are:-

  • Obesity
  • Overuse of caffeine
  • Anxiety
  • Overuse of pain medication
  • Snoring
  • Sleep disturbances

When to seek Medical Advice?

  • If headaches are worse
  • If headaches persist for three or more weeks
  • If more of over the counter pain remedies are taken to relieve the headache
  • If the headache is sudden or severe
  • If follows a head injury


First of all, the doctor does a physical examination of the patient to determine the signs of infection, illness or neurological problems.

Various tests such as CT scan, MRI, blood test, urine test and X-ray are done for identifying the correct symptom of the disease.

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Treatments for Chronic Headaches:

The patients are given the following pain killers during the treatment such as:-

Beta-blockers – These drugs are given to treat the high blood pressure and chronic migraine headaches, including metoprolol, timolol etc.

Muscle relaxants – It includes tizanidine, which helps treat this disease.

Antidepressants – Nortriptyline and fluoxetine are some of the antidepressants taken to reduce the causes of chronic headaches.


  • Reduce stress
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid headache triggers