Chronic Headaches

Chronic daily headaches

The chronic daily headache syndrome is a specially distressing consequence of a migraine that has been poorly treated. Most neurologists ,who are the experts in migraine, are very familiar with this syndrome however there are many other doctors who treat migraine but are grievously very ignorant concerning the nature, cause and treatment of this syndrome.

The chronic headaches syndrome consists of frequent headaches, usually exceeding 20 days per month whereby the migraine sufferers experience severe prostrating headaches which are also often accompanied by other common symptoms of migraine. The pain can be entirely debilitating and can cause the migraine patient to suffer utter despair and dehydration.

Development of chronic headache syndrome

The chronic daily headaches syndrome may develop in an insidious manner. For example, when migraine sufferers often suffer from other types of headaches besides their migraine headache, they tend to use their anti-migrainous medications to also resolve the other headaches which may occur more often.

In the beginning, these headaches tend to respond well to the migraine medication but over time, it will be realized that increasing amounts of the drug are needed in order to have similar effect. The medication involved can be aspirin, acetaminophen , ergotamine or many of the other medications recommended for migraine including those that contains the barbiturate butalbital.

When the medication wears off, a very predictable headache then appears which is the chronic daily headache pattern. An interesting point to note is that this type of headache pattern does not occur in people who do not suffer from migraine and who actually consume the same amounts and types of medication. For example, the syndrome is virtually unknown in people who suffer solely from cluster headaches or in arthritic patients who similarly consume large amounts of these drugs.

Research has also shown that the antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil), which is beneficial as a preventive medication, is rendered ineffective in this context. Yet all it needs is to break the cycle of nearly daily headaches then amitriptyline again can become useful and quite helpful in the prevention not only of migraine headaches but also the other headaches from which migraine sufferers frequently experience.

Chronic headaches and depression

The devastation and severity of this chronic daily headache cannot be overemphasized. Very often, by the time the condition is recognized, the migraine sufferer is already desperate and depressed as well as completely unable to tolerate the detoxification on an outpatient basis. Usually it will be the patient himself who recognizes the situation and subsequently seeks relevant treatment.

Hospitalization may be recommended for the patient who suffers from agonizing headaches and is unable to function socially or professionally and where there is a possible risk of depression arising.  In fact, it is crucial to know that this syndrome can still develop even with quite small amounts of acetaminophen or aspirin of less than 1000 to 1500 mg per day.