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HeadWay, Issue #133 -- Chronic Daily Headache
August 21, 2015

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In this issue:

Daily Headaches? You're Not Alone

Say what?! Headache Terminators

Daily Headaches? You're Not Alone

Having a headache every other day, or every other day, is much more common than many people think. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that in a group of 100 people, four or five may be struggling with a chronic headache condition.

There are several types of chronic headache, including chronic migraine (headache attacks 15 days per month or more, many with migraine symptoms), chronic tension-type headache, the similar new daily persistent headache), and hemicrania continua.

By far the most common type of daily or near-daily headache is chronic migraine (which used to be called transformed migraine). The diagnosis is sometimes controversial, because the typical migraine symptoms are not always present. Some doctors prefer to think of chronic migraine as a mixture of tension-type headache attacks and migraine attacks.

Chronic migraine is often accompanied by other disorders, which can make treatment more challenging. Depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and irritable bowel syndrome are all example of comorbid diseases. In addition, additional migraine symptoms may emerge when migraine becomes chronic.

Typically, episodic migraine (the occasional migraine attack) turns into chronic migraine as the years go by. But why?

The answer isn't simple. Sleep disorders, genetic factors, obesity, and other conditions may contribute.

For some patients, chronic migraine may actually be a type of medication-overuse headache (MOH) (also known as medication misuse headache, drug induced headache, or rebound headache). If a patient is taking medication for the headache (abortive, not preventative) more than a couple of days a week, they could be in danger of MOH. It has been estimated that about half of the patients who have chronic migraine should actually be diagnosed with MOH.

Although some patients clearly have more attacks because of the overuse of medication, in some cases they may simply be taking more medication because the headache attacks are becoming more frequent. The connection is not always clear.

However, if you are in a situation where you're taking too much medication, your doctor will help you lessen and/or eliminate the medication, replacing it with other treatments.

Many patients are reluctant to change or lessen medications for obvious reasons. But remember, your doctor can help you replace your current treatments with treatments which will work much better. Many people have been able to get rid of their almost daily headaches and at least go back to the occasional attack.

For any of these chronic headache conditions, good treatment is available, but it can be complex. It's best to see a neurologist who has experience treating chronic headache if at all possible.

Don't settle for a life of constant headaches. There is help available.

Say what?! Headache Terminators

Who do you call when you're in trouble? The Terminator, of course!

Terminators may be treatments used to stop a headache, but in our context here headache terminators are treatments used to break the headache cycle in medication-overuse headache.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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