Frequent daily headaches

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Nearly 5% of the adults suffer from chronic daily or frequent headaches caused by a myriad of factors. In some cases the causes for daily occurrence are not well understood and are idiopathic in nature. Daily or frequent headaches require a medical evaluation. There can be a systemic cause for which the present condition is only a symptom.

Possible causes of frequent and daily headaches

One of the cause of frequent episode is the disturbance in the processing of pain signals in the brain. The pain signals may have been interpreted with exaggerated response.

Excess caffeine (in tea and coffee), sulfides (in red wine), allergic reactions, defective eyesight, eye strain, chronic ear infections and carbon monoxide poisoning may also cause daily occurrence. The following secondary causes may also be considered during evaluation.

Suffering from daily frequent headache
Suffering from daily frequent headache

Overdose of medication and rebound effect

In many cases of frequent headaches the cause have been found to be frequent use of painkillers. Use of analgesics for three days in a week or nine days in a month can cause rebound effect and daily headache.

A vicious cycle occurs whereby frequent headaches cause the person to take frequent medication. In such cases treatment becomes difficult as the treatment itself becomes the cause of malady.

Frequent migraine

In people with migraine, the episodes occur 1-3 times a month or less. In some the occurrence becomes frequent or daily. To get over it proper preventive treatment is necessary.

Chronic tension (stress)

People who are prone to tension headaches can slowly develop daily episodes. Tight contractions of muscles in the head, neck and shoulders due to anxiety, stress or lack of sleep usually are the causes. Treating the condition and preventing the underlying cause may bring relief.

New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH)

Some people, who never had headache of any type suddenly develop persistent daily headache. International Headache Society (IHS) has classified it as a Primary Headache Disorder by the ICHD-2 classification system. NDPH is unique and is continuous daily pain.

It may be varying in intensity and very rapidly build up to continuous and unremitting pain. There is no specific treatment for this condition.  It often does not respond to preventive or abortive medications. In some small studies preventive individual treatments with gabapentin, topiramate and doxycycline have been found to successful.


The inflammation of sinus (sinusitis) creates pressure and precipitate frequent headaches. Sinusitis due to infections in the sinus. In chronic sinusitis the pain becomes a daily feature and is severe when the affected person bends down. Treating and curing sinusitis with anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics can bring relief from pain and daily headache.

Traumatic head & neck injuries

If a person suffers from frequent headaches after a head or neck injury, it could be a serious condition. If a sensation of whirling and loss of balance (vertigo) also accompanies then it is an emergency situation requiring thorough medical investigation. There is a great possibility of damage to nerve tissues of the brain or spine.


Persons suffering from meningitis also have daily or frequent headaches. Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the meninges membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Other symptoms of meningitis are fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, confusion and seizures.

The health condition of the patient with meningitis deteriorates quickly requiring immediate medical care. There is also viral meningitis with similar symptoms.


Dehydration, especially chronic dehydration is found the cause daily headaches. As children are more prone to dehydration, they may also suffer from this condition.

Over consumption of coffee or alcohol, diuretics, strenuous exercise, antihistamines and calcium channel blockers can cause loss of considerable amount of water and electrolytes from the body.

Taking sufficient water will solve this problem of frequent daily headaches . Excess loss of body salts through profuse sweating can also produce this pain and one may have to take sports drinks.

Hormones effects

The monthly fluctuations in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones can cause frequent headaches in women. During the menopause frequent headaches are produced as there is fluctuation in the levels of hormones and also there is a drop in the levels of estrogen.

Seek medical help if the daily episode is accompanied by the following symptoms like,

  • getting worse over days,
  • vision changes,
  • nausea or vomiting,
  • numbness and tingling,
  • pain in the ear or eye,
  • confusion or convulsions
  • or pain and stiffness in the neck are present.

Seek medical help and have your frequent headache evaluated. The cause could be an underlying serious health condition.

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Image courtesy: by Mr.Thomas under (CC BY-SA 2.0).

1. Fumal A, Schoenen J. Tension-type headache: current research and clinical management. Lancet Neurol. 2008:7(1):70-83.
2. Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network (November 2008). Diagnosis and management of headache in adults. Edinburgh. ISBN 978-1-905813-39-1.
3. Halker RB, Hastriter EV, Dodick DW. Chronic daily headache: an evidence-based and systematic approach to a challenging problem. frequent causes. Neurology. 2011;76(7 suppl 2):S37-S43.
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