Why Am I Suddenly Getting Headaches Every Day? (2024)

One in 20 adults has a headache every day or nearly every day. There are many different types of headaches, and although the causes of most are unknown, headache triggers can often be identified.

In rare cases, headaches can signify a more serious underlying condition requiring prompt medical attention.

This article discusses common headaches and triggers, what to do if your headache won’t go away, and when to seek medical care for headache-related symptoms.

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Headaches Every Day? (1)

Tension headache and migraine are the most common types of headache.

Why Do You Get a Headache at the Same Time Every Day?

What Are the Different Types of Headaches?

There are more than 300 types of headaches, most of which are primary, meaning they are not caused by another medical condition.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are marked by steady, dull, non-throbbing pain, usually on both sides of the head. Tightness around the temples, the scalp, and the neck can also be present.

The pain from a tension headache is typically mild to moderate, doesn't worsen with movement, and can last from 30 minutes to several days.

Migraine

Pain on only one side of the head is the main symptom of migraine, a complex neurological disorder marked by painful attacks that last from hours to days. Other symptoms of migraine include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound

New Daily Persistent Headache

New daily persistent headaches (NDPH) are just what the name describes: Headaches that occur daily in someone who has never had them before. The head pain is always present, although the severity can change.

To be diagnosed with NDPH, you must have had constant head pain for three months or more that can't be explained by other conditions you might have.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches occur in groups anywhere from every other day to multiple times per day, with each attack lasting one to three hours. Pain from cluster headaches is typically sudden and severe and can include pain behind the eye and on one side of the head.

Other symptoms of cluster headache include:

  • Red or watering eyes
  • Eyelid drooping or swelling
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness or agitation

Thunderclap Headache

A thunderclap headache is severe and comes on in seconds. It is often described as a pain, unlike anything the person has felt before. The pain can occur anywhere in the head and down the back of the neck.

A thunderclap headache is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care, especially if accompanied by fever, weakness, confusion, loss of vision or sensation, or changes in speech or thinking.

Sinus Headache

Common sinus headache symptoms of sinus pain and congestion are often symptoms of a migraine attack. It's estimated that up to 90% of the time, when someone believes they have a sinus headache, they are having a migraine attack.

A viral or bacterial sinus infection causes a sinus headache and includes other symptoms, such as thick, discolored nasal discharge, facial pain and pressure, and fever.

Ice-Pick Headache

Ice-pick headache, or primary stabbing headache, is marked by intense, brief stabbing pain but no other symptoms. The pain typically goes away within a few minutes.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches can be a sign of a serious medical condition, such as injuries to the head or neck or infections. They can also occur due to an underlying medical condition.

Common Causes of Headaches Every Day

It's estimated that only about 10% of headaches have a known cause, although contributing factors can trigger daily headaches.

Stress and Tension

Emotional stress and muscle tension around the head and neck are both common triggers for tension headaches. Eye strain, including too much time looking at electronic devices, and poor posture can also contribute to headaches.

Hormonal Changes

Changes in estrogen levels associated with menstrual cycles are related to migraines in women, especially in perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause, when the menstrual cycle ends), when women who have never had migraines can begin to get them. Estrogen hormone replacement therapy might also be a migraine trigger in some women.

Food or Drinks

Drinking alcohol, having too much or too little caffeine, not eating enough, or eating certain foods can each trigger headaches in some people.

Sleep

Sleep problems, especially not getting enough sleep, are known to trigger migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Too much sleep can also trigger a migraine attack.

Infections or Illnesses

Colds, the flu, or a sinus infection can all cause headaches. In rare cases, headaches can be caused by infection or a tumor.

Medications

Certain medications can trigger headaches. Some of the most common medications that might lead to headaches include nitroglycerin and female hormones, including contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.

Brain Inflammation or Blood Vessel Issues

Swelling or bleeding in or around the brain are medical emergencies that require immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room if you experience a severe headache that comes on suddenly or after an injury or if you feel dizzy, faint, confused, or have vision changes.

Bleeding in and around the brain or blood clots that stop blood flow to parts of the brain can all cause headaches. Headaches can also be caused by brain aneurysms or swelling and inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to the head or neck (temporal arteritis).

Brain swelling (edema) from injury, altitude sickness, or carbon monoxide poisoning can also cause headaches.

How Can I Figure Out the Cause of My Headaches?

It can be difficult to determine the cause of your headaches because, in most cases, the causes of headaches are unknown. One of the best ways to help you and your healthcare provider identify what might be causing your headaches is by keeping a headache diary.

A headache diary should include:

  • The date
  • Severity of the headache
  • Symptoms of the headache
  • When the headache started and how long it lasted
  • Other helpful information like what you ate, the weather conditions, how you slept, and any emotional or physical changes you were experiencing

A Word From Verywell

The better you describe symptoms, such as the time of onset, characteristics, location, frequency, severity, duration, and what improves or worsens them, the better. Your healthcare provider can determine if further workup is necessary and how to relieve symptoms.

NICHOLAS R. METRUS, MD, MEDICAL EXPERT BOARD

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Headaches Every Day? (2)

How Do I Know If My Frequent Headaches Are Serious?

Although headaches can be painful and interfere with quality of life, in many cases, they are not caused by a potentially serious medical condition. Primary headaches can be treated by a healthcare provider such as a primary care provider or neurologist (medical specialist of disorders of the brain and nervous system) or at urgent care.

Some health issues can cause secondary headaches and, in some cases, the headache is a sign of a medical emergency. If you have any of the following symptoms, call 911 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible:

  • Your headache is very severe and starts suddenly.
  • You also have a stiff neck and/or fever.
  • You are experiencing fainting, weakness, numbness, confusion, or vision or personality changes.
  • Your headache occurs right after an injury, especially a head injury.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

If your headaches are continuing even with medication and avoiding triggers, it might be time to consult a healthcare provider. You should also see a healthcare provider if your headaches affect your home life, work, or overall quality of life.

You should also see a healthcare provider if your headaches:

  • Develop after the age of 50
  • Change in pattern or severity
  • Are accompanied by painful red eyes
  • Come on suddenly
  • Wake you up

Summary

Why daily headaches occur is not well understood. However, what is known is that they can be triggered by numerous factors, such as stress, tension, food, hormonal changes, sleep, and more.

If you are experiencing headaches every day, it's essential to keep a headache diary and seek medical advice if the headaches continue. A healthcare professional can help you determine your headache type, possible triggers, and treatments to relieve your symptoms.

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Headaches Every Day? (2024)
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