Headache Disorders

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Primary Headache Disorders

Medication Overuse
New Daily
Persistent Headache

Chronic Daily


Chronic Daily Headache (CDH) is any headache that occurs on 15 days of the month or more and lasts at least four hours. It affects about 4-5% of the population and is believed to be becoming more widespread. Like migraine, CDH can significantly affect an individual’s ability to function within the family, in society and in the workplace.There are three main types of CDH:

  • Chronic Tension Headache
  • Chronic (Transformed) Migraine
  • Medication Overuse Headache
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Medication Overuse


Medication Overuse Headache (MOH) is caused by the overuse of medication – usually analgesics such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen or codeine. It can, however, also occur through the overuse of migraine-specific Triptan drugs.The headaches are characterised by a near constant low-intensity pain. Sufferers usually have a history of tension headache or migraine that becomes more frequent and severe over time.Taking medication temporarily eases the pain, but when the effect wears off the headache returns and over time people begin to take more and more medication. It can be easy to fall into a vicious cycle of taking medication for a headache which is itself caused by medication.It is not easy to break the cycle and you shoud consult your doctor for help in withdrawing from the offending medication. Withdrawal may result in worsening headaches, nausea and anxiety for one to two weeks. However it is the only cure.Some health professionals will suggest a tapering down of the amount of medication taken and a more gradual withdrawal. As over 40% of MOH sufferers relapse, it is important that you seek help and support.
Migraine and Men

Chronic Tension


People with chronic tension-type headache usually have a history of ordinary tension headaches. It is similar to a tension headache except it occurs on at least 15 days per month. It is frequently provoked by ongoing stress or other emotional factors such as job conflicts, family relationships, grief or depression.

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Primary Benign Headache Disorders


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Benign Exertional


Benign exertional headache is brought on by intense physical exercise, including sexual activity. Pain is moderate to severe and generally lasts from a few minutes to an hour.

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Sinus Headache

A sinus headache is a headache caused by a clogged sinus cavity that is sometimes confused with migraine. When a sinus becomes inflamed, usually as the result of an allergic reaction or an infection, the result is a deep, dull ache in the face and adjacent areas of the head.

Like migraine, the pain may be aggravated by movement. If your headache is truly caused by a sinus blockage, you will probably have other symptoms such as fever, nasal discharge, ear sensations and/or facial swelling.

An x-ray will confirm a sinus blockage. Antihistamines or antibiotics are used to treat

Tension Headache

Tension  headache is the most common type of headache. Experts estimate that nearly 90% of women and about 70% of men experience tension headaches at some point in their lives.

Tension headaches can be caused by stress, poor posture or inadequate lighting. They often begin in the afternoon or evening of a stressful day and last from one to six hours.

It usually presents as a mild or moderate ‘band-like’ or ‘pressing’ headache that tightens down on the head, with a feeling of tension in the shoulders and the back of the neck.

Unlike migraine, pain tends to be on both sides of the head and is not worsened by routine activity. Also unlike migraine, there are usually no other symptoms. Despite these differences, it is known that people with regular tension headache often have co-existing migraine.

It is not always necessary to consult your GP for occasional tension headaches. Most people successfully treat tension headaches with over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen.

Regular exercise, stress management techniques, eating sensibly and taking regular breaks from computer screens are all self-management techniques that can lead to a reduction in tension headaches.

However, if the headaches become more frequent or intense or if you are regularly using painkillers, then it is time to seek medical advice.

Caffeine Withdrawal Headache

A throbbing headache caused by the dilation of the blood vessels once the constrictive effects of caffeine are no longer present. It can occur about twelve hours after the last cup of coffee was consumed and is often experienced at weekends.

Headaches Caused by

Other Medical Issues

Headaches caused by other medical problems are know as secondary headaches. Secondary headaches may be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Some of these can be serious but most are benign.

We recommend you consult your doctor if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • You have a stiff neck and/or fever in addition to a headache.
  • Your headache is accompanied by shortness of breath and/or symptoms affecting your eyes, ears, nose or throat.
  • You are dizzy, drowsy, unsteady, have slurred speech, weakness, numbness or tingling in addition to your headache.
  • Your headache is accompanied by a rash.
  • You have long lasting or repetitive aura symptoms.
  • Your headaches are triggered by coughing or sneezing.
  • You headache begins and persists after a head injury.
  • Your headache keeps getting worse and won’t go away.
  • Your headaches have changed in character.
  • Persistent and/ or severe vomiting accompanies your headache.
  • You have experienced your first and/or worst headache.
  • Your headaches began after the age of 40.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that even when these symptoms are present, most people do not have a serious underlying cause for their headaches.

Complementary Approaches