What Are the Causes of Persistent Headaches?

Persistent headaches are relatively common and may have a variety of causes, including sinus problems, stress, or other underlying medical conditions. Occasionally, these recurrent headaches may indicate a more serious health issue, such as an aneurysm or brain tumor. One of the first steps in determining the cause of persistent headaches is to recognize the type of headache present. Some of the most common types include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Persistent headaches should always be reported to a doctor for medical evaluation so that an accurate diagnosis can be obtained and proper treatment can begin.

The most commonly diagnosed type of persistent headache is known as a tension headache. Although the exact cause of these persistent headaches is not completely understood, triggers often include stress, poor posture, or holding the head in one position for prolonged periods of time. Symptoms of a tension headache usually include a feeling of pressure or tightness along the front, sides, and back of the head.

Cluster headaches may be recurrent or persistent for some people and are believed to be caused by abnormalities in a portion of the brain called the hypothalamus. Some medications, such as nitroglycerin, may also result in cluster headaches. These persistent headaches tend to develop around the same time each day and may follow the different seasons of the year. Alcohol frequently causes cluster headaches to worsen significantly and may need to be avoided during a cluster period.


Migraines are among the most well-known types of persistent headaches. These headaches are widely believed to be caused by brain chemical imbalances and may be triggered by certain foods, hormonal changes, or stress. Each migraine sufferer will have individualized triggers that may need to be avoided. In addition to severe headaches, migraine symptoms may include nausea, visual changes, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Some persistent headaches cannot be traced to a particular underlying medical condition. In other cases, these headaches could indicate the presence of a serious medical issue, such as an aneurysm or brain tumor. Most headaches are not dangerous and do not mean that there is a major health concern. With that said, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor so that the proper diagnostic tests can be performed and an accurate diagnosis can be obtained. Treatment options for persistent migraines can vary widely and depend on the individual situation.



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