Chronic Headaches

What are Chronic Headaches?

Most chronic headaches in Singapore are persistent and recurring head pain that occurs regularly over an extended period, typically for 15 or more days per month for at least three months. These headaches vary in intensity and duration and often disrupt daily life.

Chronic headaches comprise different types of headaches, such as:

  • Migraines: migraines are extreme headaches characterised by throbbing, pulsing, and intense pain on one or both sides of the head.
  • Tension headaches: the most common type of headache, tension headaches are characterised by mild to moderate aches, often described as a tightness or pressure in your eyes, head, or neck. 
  • Cluster headaches: cluster headaches are known to result in severe or painful headaches that usually occur frequently over a period of time (weeks or months)..
  • Hemicrania continua: a type of headache disorder, hemicrania continua results in constant pain to one side of the head or face.
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypotension: characterised by low pressure within the skull due to low cerebrospinal fluid. Idiopathic intracranial hypotension is characterised by headaches and other neurological symptoms.
  • Mixed headaches: also known as a mixed tension migraine, it has symptoms of both a tension headache and a migraine.
chronic headache
Chronic headaches result in daily headaches for at least 15 days a month for three months.

What are the common causes of Chronic Headaches in Singapore?

The main cause of primary chronic headaches is yet to be understood; however, certain factors thought to be linked to the development of secondary chronic headaches include:

  • Brain tumour: brain tumours that grow and press on surrounding tissue can result in chronic headaches.
  • Infections: infections such as meningitis, which causes inflammation of the membrane and fluids surrounding the brain, can cause chronic headaches.
  • Inflammation: neuroinflammation or inflammation of the brain can cause migraines and other types of chronic headaches.
  • Brain injury: chronic headaches are very common in individuals with brain or head injuries.

What are the symptoms of Chronic Headaches?

Symptoms of chronic headaches include:

  • Frequent head pain
  • Headache type (manifests as tension-type headaches or migraines)
  • Mild to severe pain intensity
  • Extended durations (lasting for hours or even days)
  • Pain on both sides of your head (tension-type) or one side (migraine)
  • Associated symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and muscle tension)
  • Interference with daily life
  • Variability (headache pattern remains consistent over months, with fluctuating intensity)

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment with Chou Neuroscience Clinic today.

Are Chronic Headaches painful?

Yes, chronic headaches are painful. The level of pain varies between individuals from one headache episode to another. Some individuals experience mild, dull aches, while others endure intense, throbbing pain.

Chronic headaches, such as chronic tension-type headaches and chronic migraines, persistently disrupt your daily life due to their pain levels.

The discomfort often ranges from bothersome to severely debilitating, making it crucial to seek medical evaluation and treatment if you are experiencing chronic headaches.

types of headaches
Chronic headaches comprise different types, ranging from migraines to tension headaches.

Who is at risk of Chronic Headaches in Singapore?

While the main cause of chronic headaches remains elusive, several factors increase an individual’s risk of developing chronic headaches. These risk factors are:

sinus headache
Sinus headaches are caused by sinusitis – inflammation of the sinuses.
lumbar puncture
Lumbar puncture or a spinal tap may be necessary to diagnose chronic headaches.

How are chronic headaches diagnosed?

Chronic headaches are diagnosed using a plethora of tests, such as:

  • Medical history: you will discuss your symptoms and medical history with your doctor and provide details about your headaches' frequency, duration, and characteristics.
  • Physical examination: a thorough physical examination will be conducted to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your headaches.
  • Headache diary: keeping a detailed diary can help your doctor better understand your headache patterns and potential triggers.
  • Diagnostic criteria: your neurology specialist will use established diagnostic criteria to determine the type of chronic headache you may have.
  • Imaging tests: in some cases, your doctor may recommend brain imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (link to service page) or computed tomography scans (CT scans) (link to service page) to rule out structural causes of chronic headaches.
  • Blood test: blood tests may be ordered to check for underlying medical conditions or imbalances that could be contributing to your headaches.
  • Specialised tests: in certain situations, specialised tests such as a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) may be performed if there is suspicion of specific neurological issues.

What are the treatment options available for Chronic Headaches in Singapore?

A combination of approaches to effectively manage and alleviate symptoms of chronic headaches are available in Singapore.

Some common treatment options include:

  • Medications: includes pain relievers, preventive medications, or acute migraine treatments.
  • Lifestyle modifications: include maintaining regular sleep patterns, managing stress, staying hydrated, and avoiding trigger foods or substances.
  • Physical therapy: physiotherapy or massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension and reduce headache frequency.
  • Counselling: counselling or relaxation techniques may be recommended if stress or emotional factors contribute to your headaches.
  • Biofeedback: teaches you to control physiological responses and can effectively manage chronic headaches.
  • Nutritional counselling: identifying and avoiding trigger foods can be part of your treatment plan.

Your neurology specialist will work with you to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on the type and specific triggers of your chronic headaches. Regular follow-up and open communication with your healthcare team are essential for effective headache management.

Frequently asked questions  

Are chronic headaches curable?

Chronic headaches are often manageable, but they may not be completely curable. With appropriate treatment, lifestyle adjustments, and identifying triggers, the frequency and severity of chronic headaches can be reduced, allowing you a better quality of life.

What should I do if my current treatment is ineffective in managing chronic headaches?

If your current treatment is not effective, let your neurology specialist know. They can reassess your condition, explore alternative treatment options, or refer you to other specialists to develop a more effective headache management plan tailored to your needs.

How can I differentiate between a regular headache and a chronic headache?

To differentiate between a regular headache and a chronic headache, consider the frequency and duration. Chronic headaches occur regularly for at least 15 days per month while recurring headaches are occasional and typically resolve within a day.

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved