Chronic Headaches Are Common And Persistent In Americans

Chronic Headaches Are Common And Persistent In Americans

Chronic Headaches: Persistent and Common in Americans

After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), headaches become one of the most common persisting post-TBI symptoms and complaints of affected individuals. Somewhere close to 1.7 million TBIs occur every year in the US, yet many still go undetected. Symptoms are easily dismissed as regular headaches or treatable via over-the-counter pain relievers.

With most post-traumatic headaches (PTH) resolving within 3 months, between 18-65% of cases experience headache persistency. In this week’s post, however, we would like to focus on some other factors that influence the onset of chronic headaches. Family history, age, gender, and past injuries all play roles in different types of persistent and frequent headaches.

Chronic Tension-Type Headaches and Chronic Migraines

Two types of chronic daily headaches include Chronic tension-type headaches and chronic migraines. These occur 15 days or more a month. Other common types of chronic headaches include hemicrania continua, a one-sided headache that may feel like a migraine, and new daily persistent headache, which are headaches that generally occur in people who do not ordinarily have headaches and occur daily. Characterized by their frequency and duration, these headaches can be debilitating and affect one’s daily life.

Headaches Run in the Family

As the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world, migraines affect generations of men, women, and children. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 US households includes someone affected by chronic headaches/migraines, with around 90% of those sufferers having a family history of the neurological condition. There is a 40% chance that if one parents suffers from migraines, their children will. Even worse is if both parents suffer, because there’s a 90% chance that their children will also have migraines. Today, around 10% of children experience migraines.

Chronic Headaches: It’s a Women’s Health Issue

Both men and women experience chronic headaches, making up 38 million American sufferers, most of whom are between the ages of 25 and 55. Of the 38 million, around 28 million are women. Three times as many women than men suffer from migraines in adulthood, so chronic headaches are truly a women’s health issue.

The experience of chronic headaches between men and women are different, as women report episodic and chronic pain more frequently than men. As a result of changes in estrogen levels, females suffer more severe and frequent migraine attacks, which supports the idea that hormones are linked to migraines. This may not always be the case, but other factors are not clearly known, other than family history and head injuries in the past.

Previous Injuries Impact Future Headaches

According to a 2016 study presented at the 58th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, there is a high prevalence of painful headaches continuing years after a TBI. The study followed more than 300 individuals who mostly had moderate to severe TBIs. Taking into account previous headache history and other factors over the course of five years, more than half of the headaches were later classified as migraine or probable migraine, and over a third of patients had several headaches a week or daily headaches.

Get Headache Help

While you’re setting up your appointment to assess your chronic headache condition, make it a priority to get plenty of rest, stay away from risky activities, and eat healthy. If you come under a severe migraine, don’t be afraid to take time off work to rest, and stay in a dark, quiet room, as it’s very helpful in relieving tension.