Having a headache is a pain – literally and figuratively. And it's even worse when your headaches feel constant and as if you're tormenting all the time . You may be surprised that there is a fairly long list of causes of constant headaches. Some causes of chronic headaches are not serious, while other causes may mean that a deeper health problem is involved.
What causes headaches?
Experts do not fully understand what happens in our skulls when headaches occur but the most likely explanation is that the blood vessels swell slightly, the nerves around them expand and fire pain signals.
There are three main types of headache: Migraines Tension and Clusters, Susan Hutchinson, MD Director of the Migraine and Headache Center in Orange County, tells SELF. Here is a brief summary of each type:
Cluster Headache: This type usually occurs on one side of the head, causing one eye to break and make you feel extremely agitated. They are not very common and seem to live in families. Hutchinson. An "attack" can take weeks or months, according to the Mayo Clinic .
The cause is unknown, but cluster headaches can occur if something is turned off with the biological clock of the body, according to Mayo Clinic. Cluster headaches are also generally not triggered by certain factors, such as stress or hormonal changes, tension-type headaches and migraines. (Exceptions: Certain medications and alcohol may cause cluster headaches, according to Mayo Clinic.)
Migraine: Migraine typically causes pain (sometimes so severe that it affects a person's functioning) on one side of the head and possibly nausea and / or photosensitivity, explains the Mayo Clinic .
It's not entirely clear what causes migraines, but it's possible that these are "changes in the brain stem and its interactions with the brain" is the trigeminal nerve, "says the Mayo Clinic. (Changes in brain serotonin levels may also play a role, but more research is needed to determine how and why.) Experts Mean Migraine is primarily genetic .
Tension Headache: Anyone can get a tension headache caused by muscle tension in the head, neck, or scalp, according to MedlinePlus . "Unlike migraine, which we believe is genetically predisposed, tension-type headaches are fairly universal," says Dr. Hutchinson.
Tension headaches can be caused by anything from dehydration and stress in the workplace to a diagnosed diabetes or an autoimmune disease. Tension headaches feel tense, as if your head is in a vise. They can occur on both sides and meet later in the day as the tension increases. "It's a severe, depressing feeling," explains Dr. Hutchinson.
If you have a persistent headache, you may have tension or migraine.
What does it mean if you have a headache constant or chronic?
Technically, your headache persists for at least 15 days or more a month for at least three consecutive months, SELF previously reported . However, having a recurrent headache for two weeks does not mean that you should alleviate your pain – you should still see your doctor.
The causes of constant headaches – whether tension or migraines – range from very small to quite large. Here are 10 things that could reveal your headache about your health.
. 1 You are stressed.
"Unresolved stress can really contribute to a headache," says Hutchinson. As already mentioned, tension-type headaches occur when the muscles of the neck and scalp tighten, and this can be a physical reaction that your body must exert on stress and anxiety, MedlinePlus .
If you suffer Stop a headache and think about what's going on in your life. How stressed are you? And press your Stress under the carpet, instead of dealing with it ?
Fix it: Stress management and self-care techniques are crucial here. and maybe therapy. Psychotherapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help you deal better with anxious thoughts. The stress and anxiety coping methods in all are different, as SELF previously reported . But often a mix of techniques that you can do alone and / or with a psychiatrist is best.
. 2 They are dehydrated.
"For every type of headache, a person needs to check their health habits," says Dr. Hutchinson. An important aspect is the absorption of water, since dehydration can cause headaches . The exact connection is unknown, but experts believe that this is related to the way blood volume decreases if you do not get enough water. Lower blood volume means less oxygen gets into the brain.
Fix it: Look for obvious signs of dehydration including yellow piss, thirst, and dry mouth. Then drink more water (of course). You can also increase the amount of high-water foods in your diet (think celery, watermelon and tomatoes).
The amount of fluids to be consumed depends on various factors, such as age and physical activity. As a rule of thumb, however, women should consume about 2.7 liters of water daily (from drinks and food) and about 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water per day for men, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and of Medicine .
. 3 They are anemic.
Anemia is a condition in which you lack sufficient red blood cells to properly transport oxygen into your body tissue, explains Mayo Clinic . It can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath and others. "A heavier anemia can cause a headache," Dr. Hutchinson.
There are various causes of anemia including iron deficiency, which has a lower B-12 level than normal folic acid or a chronic disease that results in anemia.
Correction: If you have anemia symptoms, take them to your doctor. From there, you can choose to test your red blood cell concentration to see if you are anemic (or perform other tests or examinations to rule out other possible underlying health conditions).
Fortunately, if you respond to [leiden] iron or vitamin deficiency anemia reversibly by increasing iron or vitamin intake. Your doctor will guide this treatment.
. 4 You have a chronic illness.
Headache is a common side effect of many chronic diseases, such as fibromyalgia lupus and diabetes .
Fix If you have a chronic headache, it's always worth talking to your doctor if there's something about your body, to find out if an underlying condition can cause your problems. Even if you are not sure and believe that this is a small matter, do not hesitate to consult a doctor and be your own champion of health.
. 5 You are dealing with hormonal problems, such as menstruation.
Thanks to the drop in estrogen just before menstruation, many women suffer from PMS headaches. In fact, menstruation is one of the biggest migraine triggers for women.
However, it is not the only time that a change in estrogen levels can cause headaches – both perimenopause and postpartum periods are characterized by a marked decline in estrogen, and as a result, often with headache. Pregnancy also affects estrogen levels. As a result, you may find that your headache gets worse (or sometimes disappears) during this time, says Mayo Clinic . "Any time of hormonal change is a vulnerable time for headaches," says Dr. Hutchinson.
If you find that your headaches are cyclical and consistent with your period, it pays to address this. Your doctor may suggest a birth control or change your current birth control.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, hormonal birth control can have an effect on your headache; and for some people, hormonal contraception can make headaches less frequent and intense as they reduce estrogen depletion during the menstrual cycle.
For a short-term relief of headache during your period, typical headache medications can help. As ice or a cold compress, relaxation techniques or take an over-the-counter painkillers.
If you are dealing with chronic headaches during pregnancy, you should first ask your doctor what solutions are appropriate for you, as some headache medications are not safe for pregnant women, says the Mayo Clinic.
. 6 You have a sinus problem.
Sinus headaches are not so common. Hutchinson stuck. "Most sinus headaches are just migraines with sinus symptoms," she says. So, if you have recurrent headaches in the sinus or facial area, you may be at risk for a migraine headache. Studies have shown that in about 90 percent of people who have a doctor because of sinus headaches, migraine is actually present, according to the Mayo Clinic .
But if your headache is associated with a fever, phlegm or any other indication that you might be ill, an underlying sinusitis can be to blame.
Correction: If you have sinusitis, the headache should disappear after taking antibiotics to turn off the infection – visit your doctor.
. 7 Her body clock is off.
Do you wake up early and notice a nagging pain in your head? The disruption of your body program can trigger a headache, says Hutchinson.
Getting up earlier (or later) than usual may affect your circadian rhythm. "Traveling is generally a trigger," she adds. The stress of traveling, changing air pressure, changing the time zones and simply staying at the airport can all cause a headache.
Fix it: Sometimes it's simply not possible to maintain the same sleep-wake effect schedule (say, when you travel abroad), it's important to try to get your typical routine as close as possible hold. In this way you limit the interruption of your body clock and keep headaches away or at least less often.
In addition, stress reduction practices are particularly important in hectic travel situations. – like loud, crowded airports – to keep the tormenting headaches under control.
. 8 They drink too much caffeine.
Caffeine causes vasoconstriction in your blood vessels, which means they become a little tighter. If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks every day, your body will get used to it, Dr. Hutchinson. If you skip it one day, your blood vessels will not narrow and can hurt your head. It becomes a vicious circle pushing back a cup to relieve it, deepening the need for caffeine.
Fix it: "It is unrealistic to tell all headache patients that they should avoid caffeine," says dr. Hutchinson. It recommends moderation – a maximum of two caffeinated drinks in a day – to avoid these withdrawal symptoms, if you refrain from it. (Remember, these are two small coffees, not jumbo cups.)
9. They take too many headache medications.
Headache treatments may possibly backfire. "Sometimes what you feel is a headache starts to work against you," says Dr. Hutchinson. Exaggerating painkillers can actually aggravate the pain – and the caffeine in some medications like Excedrin can cause headaches on withdrawal exacerbating the effect. Excessive use of painkillers to treat headaches can lead to so-called rebound headaches.
Correction: If you have been taking a lot of OTC medications, try stopping for one day or drastically reducing your intake. "If you have a day without a headache and you do not have to take anything, then you can say that you have left the rebound," says dr. Hutchinson.
10th In rare cases, constant headache may be an indication of a brain tumor.
If you go through the headache symptoms, it may lead to self-diagnosis of the brain tumor. Rest assured, they are rare, so you probably have none. But it is a possibility and something that you do not want to miss, says dr. Hutchinson. "If a patient had a regular headache pattern [for months] and it has not changed, it's usually not a red flag," she says.
If headaches are new to you, you are the most serious If you experience or change or worsen over time, it may indicate that your doctor may order a brain scan. However, if you are worried about what causes your headache, talk to your doctor about it.