Can a tension headache last for weeks?

Migraines are a type of severe headache that can last for days, or even weeks, at a time. They begin with a feeling of general illness that manifests itself a day or two before the headache begins. Some people experience changes in the aura or bright, flashing vision, before the pain begins. Without effective treatment, migraine attacks usually last four to 24 hours.

When you have a migraine, even four hours is too much and that's why early migraine treatment is so important. Chronic tension headaches occur 15 or more days a month on average for more than three months. The headache may last several hours or be continuous for several days. This medicine does not treat the headache instantly, but should be taken daily for several months until the headaches subside.

Finding and avoiding the things or triggers that cause tension headaches can reduce how often you have headaches and how severe they are when you have them. However, a proportion of these patients may have developed drug overuse headaches (drug-induced headaches) as a result of their tension headaches. Botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) is sometimes injected into the muscles of the face and head to treat headaches. If you have frequent headaches and use medicines, over-the-counter or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches.

It is important to identify any triggers that may cause tension headaches, as avoiding triggers and reducing stress can help prevent the development of headaches. Chronic tension headache is a condition where you have a tension headache at least 15 days a month for at least three months. Write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details like what you ate and what you were doing when the headache started. If you experience headaches that interfere with your daily life or if you need to take headache medicine more than twice a week, talk to your health care provider.

Medication overuse headache is caused by taking pain relievers (or triptan medicines) too often for tension headaches or migraine attacks. However, remember that overuse can lead to rebound headaches and a vicious cycle of drugs and headaches. This is what the official medical publication that classifies all headache disorders calls this headache. If over-the-counter medicines don't stop your headaches well enough or if you have a lot of headaches, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent headaches.

Even so, you should know when a headache needs urgent care and how to control the vast majority of headaches that do not threaten your health. If you have a headache 15 or more days each month for a period of 3 months, you may have chronic tension headaches. Some studies have estimated that about 1 in 30 adults have chronic tension headaches, which means they have a headache more than half of every day for three months or more.