The World Health Organization estimates that nearly everyone has had a headache at one point, and as many as half of Americans have missed work because of a headache or migraine. An occasional headache is bad enough, but chronic headaches can take a serious toll on your mental and physical well-being, your social life, and your performance at work.
Your first step in overcoming chronic headaches is to identify the cause of them. Dr. Benjamin Taimoorazy is an expert when it comes to diagnosing and treating headaches here at Beverly Hills Migraine and Pain Management Institute in Beverly Hills and Northridge, California. Dr. Taimoorazy performs a physical exam, reviews your symptoms, and orders imaging tests (such as a CT or MRI) to confirm the type of headaches you have and what’s causing them.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about the potential causes of your chronic headaches.
What type of headache do you have?
All headaches are not the same. Some cause pain behind the eyes, while others create a tight wrapping sensation around your entire head. Some are accompanied by auras, and some are so intense that you may only find solace in a dark, quiet room. There are many types of headaches, and each type has its own causes. In other words, the first step to identifying the cause of your headache is to learn more about the type of headache you have.
Tension headaches can occur if your neck muscles become tense. Physical stress, emotional stress, bruxism, poor posture, and eye strain can contribute to neck muscle strain and tension headaches. Muscle strain isn’t the only cause of tension headaches. Dehydration, lack of sleep, seasonal colds and influenza, and skipping meals can also cause tension headaches.
Cluster headaches occur in cyclical cluster periods that for months at a time. The exact cause of cluster headaches isn’t known, although most experts agree that certain medications (such as nitroglycerin) and issues with your hypothalamus can contribute to cluster headaches.
Sinus or allergy headaches
You might develop a sinus headache if you have a sinus infection or allergies — both of which can create swelling and inflammation in your sinuses. Normally, your sinuses are air-filled, but if they become swollen and/or clogged with mucus, the resulting pressure can cause a headache.
Typically, the treatment for sinus headaches requires treating the underlying issue, whether that’s allergies or sinus infections.
Migraines cause pulsing, throbbing pain that can last up to 72 hours at a time. In addition to the deliberating pain, migraines are often accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light or sound, nausea and/or vomiting, and visual disturbances (aura).
Migraine triggers vary from person to person, but may include food and food additives (especially food that contains sucralose, MSG, or nitrates), artificial fragrances, and hormonal fluctuations.
Do you notice an uptick in headache frequency after your workout? You could have an exertion headache. Exercising in hot weather or at a high altitude can cause an exertion headache.
Dangerously high blood pressure levels can cause a hypertension headache if you’re in a hypertensive crisis. A hypertension headache accompanied by a blood pressure reading of 180/120 mm Hg or higher is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.
Rebound headaches are caused by the withdrawal of a medication or even caffeine. You can avoid rebound headaches by following all medication dosage guidelines and, if you need to wean yourself from caffeine, do so gradually.
Post-traumatic headaches can develop after brain injuries, including concussions. If you were recently in an accident or were diagnosed with a concussion, head pain is normal.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure headaches
Cerebrospinal fluid pressure headaches are caused by one of two things: too much spinal fluid or not enough spinal fluid. The right level of spinal fluid is important because it protects your spinal cord.
Spine issues, including problems with your facet joints, atlantoaxial joints, and intervertebral discs, can cause cervicogenic headaches.
What you need to know about headache treatments
Depending on the type and cause of headaches you have, potential treatments may include:
- Dietary modifications
- Stress management techniques
- Nerve blocks
- Intra-articular injections
- Cervical epidural
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Botox® injections
- Regenerative medicine
Don’t let chronic headaches rule your life. Headache treatment is just a call or click away: use our online scheduler to book an appointment with Dr. Taimoorazy at Beverly Hills Migraine and Pain Management Institute today. You can also reach us at 424-302-0289.