Conditions We Treat

Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraines can be debilitating, and it’s fairly atypical – it’s a condition that affects only around 2 in 100 people. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t treatment for it.

Keep reading to find out more about your options.

Shot of a woman scrunching her face, experiencing a migraine

What is Chronic Migraine?

Chronic migraines are explained as frequent or long-lasting episodes of headaches and migraines. Typically this will be at least 15 days per month with eight of these days having migraine symptoms, for at least three months. People who have fewer headache days with migraine symptoms have what’s called episodic migraines.

This can happen to anybody, and there’s little known about the specific cause. What we do know is that this condition can have a huge impact on your physical, social and work life.

What Causes Chronic Migraine?

As mentioned, it’s not fully understood what causes chronic migraine. But we do see that this is typically a gradual condition, with migraine attacks becoming more frequent over time.

A lot of times, this migraine can be caused by an underlying medical condition, these can include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • other pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia
  • sleep apnea
  • Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS)

Managing the underlying condition can help with managing your chronic migraine and the effectiveness of migraine treatment.

Shot of a woman with her eyes closed, with ice pack on her neck, experiencing a migraine

What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Migraines?

With chronic migraine, your symptoms can shift daily (sometimes even hour to hour). Because of that, it can be hard to tell where one migraine ends and another begins.

If you have chronic migraines your symptoms may include:

  • frequent headache
  • increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Other symptoms include visual disturbances, dizziness and vertigo.

Interestingly – for some people (around 2 out of 10) chronic migraine will go into remission within 2 years of becoming chronic.

Radiologist showing a patient her brain scan

What Are My Treatment Options for Chronic Migraines?

Around 2/3 of people with chronic migraine experience headaches caused by medication overuse. This is where acute treatments like over-the-counter painkillers are taken too often, they stop treating the head pain and cause further headache instead.

Because of this, it’s critical that you seek out professional medical care for your chronic migraine. Depending on your specific systems and medical history, your doctor will develop custom treatment plans that could include any of the following.

  • Antidepressants
  • Beta blockers
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • NSAIDs
  • Botox
  • Supplements

Frequently Asked Questions about Chronic Migraine

1. How Does A Migraine Differ From a Headache?
The easiest way to distinguish a headache from a migraine is by the severity. Unlike headaches, which range from dull to acute pain, migraines are much more debilitating.

2. How Do I Identify a Migraine?
The acronym POUND is sometimes used to summarize key migraine signs and symptoms. This is:

  • Pulsating Pain
  • One-day duration of a severe attack
  • Unilateral (one-sided) pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disabling intensity

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