What you can do about chronic headaches – free migraine relief seminar offered

Irfan Lalani, M.D., Neurologist

Irfan Lalani, M.D., Neurologist

Who doesn’t get a headache now and then? But for 4% to 5% of the population – about 10 million people – a headache is a daily pain. If you suffer from painful chronic headaches, learn what you can do before the next one hits.

“Chronic headaches strike often – at least 15 days a month and, in many cases, every day,” says Irfan Lalani, M.D., board certified neurologist at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Headache Center. “Some chronic headaches are really migraines – unrelenting pain on one or both sides of the head, sometimes with nausea and light sensitivity. Others are tension-type headaches that feel like a tightening band across the head and are usually linked to stress or anxiety.” In some cases, people who have been headache-free for most of their lives will suddenly develop daily head pain. Doctors can’t always pinpoint a cause, but sometimes the pain is triggered by surgery, an infection like the flu or a stressful life event.

Lalani identifies the following as factors that may contribute to frequent headaches:

• Female gender. Probably because of hormonal fluctuations, more women than men suffer from headaches, including chronic headaches.

• Faulty brain function. The brain’s response to pain, tissue inflammation and muscle tension can malfunction, resulting in chronic head pain.

• Genetics. Some people inherit a predisposition to headaches and increased pain sensitivity.

• Medication overuse. When you use headache medication more than two or three days a week, they can aggravate headaches, causing what’s called rebound headache. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications like analgesics with or without caffeine, opiates, ergotamines, triptans and butalbital compounds can cause rebound headaches.

• Underlying health problems. Chronic headaches may be associated with other conditions like infection, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, inflamed blood vessels, brain tumor or head injury.

Chronic headaches take a toll on your life physically and mentally. “It’s time to come in for an evaluation if you take pain medication nearly every day, if you suffer from headaches three or more times a week, you need more than the recommended dose of pain reliever or your headaches worsen or change pattern,” says Lalani.

The Headache Center offers expedited appointments for physician evaluation. Patients may self-refer or be referred by their primary care physician. For an appointment, call 281.276.8999 or email headachecenter@houstonmethodist.org.

Free migrane seminar

Join Irfan Lalani, M.D. on Tuesday, April 22, for a free migraine seminar to learn more about different types of headaches and how to treat them. The presentation starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Conference Center. Call 281.274.7500 or register online at houstonmethodist.org/events to reserve a seat.

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