Check Out Chronic Headaches | Causes & Treatments | Medanta
When asked, most people don't know what to expect when you say, "I have more than three months of experiencing at least fifteen headache days per month, eight of which include migraine symptoms, qualifies as chronic migraines. Early on, individuals with chronic headaches have headache episodes at a much lower frequency.
Many variables contribute to the slow but steady onset of chronic migraine:
Incidences of these brief, painful attacks rise progressively with time.
Many people use excessive amounts of a medication intended initially for occasional headaches to combat the growing frequency of headaches. Prescription pharmaceuticals linked to the onset of persistent headache include barbiturate-containing medicines (amobarbital [Amytal®], butabarbital [Butisol®]) and narcotics (opioids/opiates). Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, including Excedrin® and generic equivalents, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and acetaminophen (Tylenol®) are the most prevalent substances responsible for medication overuse headaches.
In addition to these causes, other things may contribute to chronic migraine.
What are the symptoms of a migraine ?
Chronic headaches have the same symptoms, whether they often occur or just sometimes. Only the frequency with which headaches occur has changed. Here are some of the most common signs of a migraine:
Warnings that your episodic migraines are becoming chronic are when they:
Experiencing an increasing frequency of migraine headaches
As the frequency of episodes increases, so does the need for medicine.
The Diagnostic and Testing Process
The physician will do a thorough examination and collect a complete medical history. The patient should expect questions from the doctor about:
Your migraine pain history, including the frequency, severity, and duration of attacks, and any associated triggers or aggravating variables.
Give specifics on where you're hurting, what it feels like, and how bad it is.
Auras, fatigue, a stiff neck, disorientation, alterations in vision or the senses, and nausea or vomiting may also occur with the pain.
Medications you are now taking, as well as those you have taken in the past, with details on their timing, dose, effectiveness, potential adverse effects, and whether or not you have tried any complementary or alternative treatments.
Consider your lifestyle, your family history of headaches, any non-headache drugs you're now taking, any other health issues you're experiencing (particularly insomnia, depression, anxiety, or fibromyalgia), and any past treatments you've tried (smoker, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake).
TREATMENT AND MEDICATION
The goal of chronic migraine treatment is to minimize the frequency and severity of migraine episodes by addressing the patient's lifestyle and the factors that bring on the headaches.
Recurrent headaches may typically be stopped when the underlying cause is treated. If no underlying cause can be identified, pain relief is the primary goal of therapy. The best way to stop headaches from happening again depends on your headache and whether or not you take too many painkillers. Weaning yourself off pain medicines may be the first step if you take them more than three times per week.
When it's time to start preventative treatment, your doctor could suggest:
Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as nortriptyline (Pamelor), are effective in treating persistent headaches. Depression, anxiety, and sleep difficulties are common in those who suffer from constant daily headaches, but these conditions are also treatable with the right medicine. It is unknown if other antidepressants, such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, and others), are more beneficial than a placebo for headaches. However, they may help treat depression and anxiety.
Beta blockers. These medications are the gold standard for avoiding migraines in those who occasionally suffer from them. Atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), and propranolol are examples of these (Inderal, Innopran XL).
Medication to prevent seizures. As well as avoiding seizures, several anticonvulsants are effective against migraines and might theoretically be used to treat or at least lessen the severity of persistent daily headaches. Topiramate (Topamax, Qudexy XR, etc.), divalproex sodium (Depakote), and gabapentin are only a few of the available options (Neurontin, Gralise).
NSAIDs. If you're experiencing withdrawal from other pain treatments, your doctor may prescribe drugs like naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Naprelan). Use these sometimes for more severe headaches.
Botulinum toxin For those who have trouble with regular medicine, onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections may be an alternative. If the headaches have the same characteristics as chronic migraines, Botox may be investigated as a treatment option.
If a single medication isn't practical, your doctor may suggest trying a combination treatment.
While waiting to visit a doctor, you might try any of the following to lessen the intensity of your headache:
Prevent aggravating your headaches by avoiding these activities.
Naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen are two examples of OTC pain relievers that you might try (Advil, Motrin IB, others). Rebound headaches may be avoided if you limit your use to no more than three times per week.
Record your headaches every day. If your headache frequency has suddenly increased, you should immediately make an appointment with a headache doctor. Please do not stop seeing a doctor about your headaches until they become constant. It may be stopped and even reversed if chronic migraine is diagnosed and treated early. Controlling the headache is the best chance for those who suffer from persistent migraines. It's realistic to hope that both the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks may be mitigated with the right therapy. Some people who have been diagnosed with chronic migraine may have a relapse into episodic migraines.