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I constantly have headaches
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I constantly have headaches

I have headaches all the time and have for years it seems.  Everyday I have headaches and it has become a vicious cycle of headache, advil, then headache comes back.  Any suggestions for dealing with this nuisance.  I also like low lighting due to light sensitivity
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Hi cujo446,

Up until a few years ago, when people would go to doctors with headaches, the doctor would tell them "take some advil or tylenol". Then sometimes some of the patients would come back and their headaches would not have gone away... the doctors would do tests, find nothing wrong, figure it was a tension headache or migraine and say "do exercises, reduce stress, and take more advil or tylenol" and this would be their continued advice up until recently.

Now we know that OTC pain killers, when used frequently, actually causes rebound headaches and makes the situation worse. This is not your fault at all, you were treating the pain, either on the advice of a doctor, a pharmacist or the label of the bottle of advil... all which told you that the advil would help your pain. Now though, if you made an appointment with a Neurologist or a Headache Specialist today they would tell you to stop taking the advil and might even suggest it as the root cause of your daily chronic headaches.

But, the fact of the matter is, you started taking that advil for a reason. The headaches were there prior to the advil... but, the advil isn't helping either. What you need to do at this point is come up with a new treatment plan and you probably can't do this alone because you probably can't do this with over-the-counter medication... as there are few, if none, out there that are known to not cause rebound headaches. You will need to make an appointment with your doctor, and probably you will need to get a referral to a Neurologist.

Chronic daily headaches can be due lots of under-lying reasons. Although the fact you mention light sensitivity makes me think it is possible you may have chronic migraines. Only a Neurologist can say for sure if you have chronic migraines though. Your family doctor may also want to send you to an ENT doctor to rule out sinus headaches as well. If sinus headaches are ruled out, and any underlying medical condition that is not purely neurological is ruled out... then you'll probably end up being treated by the Neurologist.

The treatment is basically the same for non-migraine chronic headaches (tension-type) and migraine chronic headaches with some slight differences. Preventative medication is usually used. There are three classes of daily preventative medication, your neurologist will know which to try first. The three classes of daily medications are:

- Antidepressants: Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline
- Anticonvulsant: Topamax or Valproic Acid
- Beta Blockers (blood pressure medication)

Botox Injections are also used as a preventative medication. Botox Injections are given every three months.

What I have mentioned above all is used to treat chronic migraine headaches. The antidepressants and anticonvulsants are also used to treat tension-type chronic headaches and generalized chronic pain as well. Botox Injections are sometimes used to treat tension-type chronic headaches.

Something that would be helpful for you to start now so you could bring it to your neurologist when you got your first appointment (Neurologists are all about data) is a headache diary. This would also be helpful for you in identifying triggers. Medhelp has a Migraine Tracker that you could use, or there are lots of old fashioned "pen and paper" migraine diaries that you can find online and print up. Or you could make your own. The one on MedHelp is fairly self-explanatory, although if you make your own... what to do is... track what your pain levels are in the morning, afternoon and evening are on a scale that goes "Mild" "Moderate" or "Severe". Also mention if a headache ever wakes you up. Track how much medication you take, when, and what types of medication you take. Also track possible triggers... specifically known headache triggers such as: weather changes, cheese, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, bright lights, MSG, stress. This will be helpful in noticing patterns, such as if you get worse headaches during the week or on weekends... or if you get worse headaches after you eat some types of foods... or if you get worse headaches during some parts of the day (like maybe your headaches are better at night? or maybe worse in the afternoon? or maybe they wake you up every morning?) Or maybe you will notice you always get a headache 6 to 8 hours after taking an Advil. Things like that... look for patterns so that you can then avoid the things that make your headaches worse. This will also help your neurologist when you bring the information to your appointment, in order for your neurologist to say exactly what type of headache you have.

Oh, and once you get the headaches under control with the preventative medications... then instead of the advil, if my theory about the light is right and you do have migraines... then you can take a medication called triptans that will NOT cause rebound headaches!! And that way you can treat the pain without getting more headaches in the future. Your new neurologist, once you get an appointment, will be able to prescribe you these to replace that nasty old advil. Otherwise, if it isn't a migraine, I am sure that your neurologist will be able to prescribe something that will treat the type of headache you have without giving you rebound pain.

Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!
Welcome to the forum!
It is very difficult to diagnose the cause of your headache on net. However there are various possibilities that you can look into. The symptoms that you have enumerated could be due to spinal nerve compression at the cervical vertebral level. Sleeping in wrong posture, overuse of computers, neck sprain as in a jerk or car accident can all cause headache.
High blood pressure is another possibility. Refractive errors (near or far sightedness) and eye strain also cause headaches. Poor sleep pattern is another cause. Stress and tension can cause tension headaches.
Please discuss the possibilities with your doctor and rule them out one by one.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if there is any thing else and do keep me posted. Take care!
my daughter has new onset migraines for the past 6 months. We have exhausted all meds. and nothing helps. The bata blocks did but her blood pressure got alarming low. She doesn't go to school and is very depressed. As a parent I'm completely helpless. There has to be something out there.
How is your daughter? I'm sorry to hear what she has been through for the past six months. Was there a previous trauma to the head or neck? If medications do not help, you can also try complementary an alternative medicine such as biofeedback therapy and other relaxation techniques like acupuncture or self-hypnosis . The National Institute of Health has done studies regarding this and has shown positive results to some headache sufferers. Take care and do keep us posted.
I am wondering how your daughter is doing with her non-stop headaches. My nephew has been in similar condition for one year. We tried every treatment and are in helpless condition. Please respond if your daughter has had any progress. Thanks, Habib   (***@****)

I see that you live in Houston. I also live in Houston and suffer from migraines. My Neurologist/Headache Specialist is Dr. Pamela Blake. She is a wonderful, caring doc who will work with you to find the best solutions to deal with your headaches. You can research her on the web.

Good luck, Nancy
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