Constant Headache: Top 10 Causes & How to Relieve

Updated in January 2024

A constant headache commonly occurs due to fatigue, stress, and anxiety. However, a constant headache that happens in a specific region of the head, like on the forehead, or on the right or left side of the head is often associated with a migraine.

A headache that happens with dizziness can be a sign of high blood pressure or even pregnancy. A headache can also be related to a health condition, like the flu, vision problems or hormonal changes.

If your headache is very strong or lasts for over 3 days, you should consult your family doctor for assessment and treatment.

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What causes a constant headache?

The most common causes of a constant headache are:

1. Heat

Excessive heat leads to mild dehydration and stimulates the dilation of blood vessels, including the vessels found in the head. This can lead to a headache.

What to do: A persistent headache that is caused by heat can be relieved by resting in a cool, well-ventilated room. It is recommended to avoid overexertion and to drink enough plenty of water to replace and fluids lost from the heat.

2. Vision problems

Vision problems like astigmatism, hypermetropia and myopia can all cause headaches, especially in children. Headaches emerge because these conditions often require excessive straining of the eyes.

What to do: If you suspect you may have vision problems, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist for assessment. If any problems are detected, the doctor may prescribe glasses or corrective lenses to help relieve and prevent headaches.

3. Stress or anxiety

During periods of stress or anxiety, it is often hard to sleep properly due to a hyper-active mind. This can also affect concentration in some situations. A tired mind and body can lead to headaches, which may be a sign that the body is needing rest.

What to do: You should seek out methods of relaxation, such as aromatherapy, yoga and physical activity. Undergoing psychotherapy can also help to manage anxiety in some cases. The headache tends to improve as the body relaxes. Check-out some teas for anxiety that you can prepare at home.

4. Diet

In some people, the consumption of stimulants like coffee, soda and chocolate can result in headaches, On the other hand, some people who do not eat, like during fasting, can also experience headaches as a result of hypoglycemia.

What to do: if the headache is caused by specific foods such as coffee or chocolate, you should eliminate them from your diet or moderate intake. Ideally, you should maintain a balanced diet with regular meal times to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar.

5. Bruxism

Bruxism is the involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth at night when sleeping. This can alter the positioning of the jaw joint and result in headaches throughout the day.

What to do: A constant headache caused by tooth grinding can be relieved with analgesics like acetaminophen. However, you should see a general practitioner or dentist to identify the underlying cause of bruxism which will help to guide treatment. Treatment typically involves the use of a mouth guard when sleeping.

6. Menstruation

A period can trigger hormonal changes in the body, which can cause a constant headache. It typically lasts for as long as the period. This type of headache tends to affect only one side of the head and can be accompanied by symptoms symptoms such as nausea or vomiting in some women.

Check-out other period symptoms that women may experience during menstruation.

What to do: If you always experience a headache with your period, you should see a doctor for assessment. Treatment generally involves the use of analgesics, although the doctor may also consider adjusting birth control dosing (if taken).

7. COVID-19

COVID-19 can also cause constant headaches, as well as a cough, fever and loss of smell in some cases. Sometimes, the headache may persist even after the infection improves, which may be a sign of long COVID.

What to do: If you suspect you may have COVID-19 or long COVID, you should see a doctor for assessment and possible diagnosis. The doctor may prescribe analgesics to relieve general symptoms, however, hospitalization may be necessary for severe infections.

8. Sinusitis

A constant headache may be caused by sinusitis. This condition can cause a feeling of pressure or tightness in the forehead, and it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, phlegm in the throat and a cough.

Also recommended: Chronic Sinusitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes & Treatment

What to do: If you suspect you may have sinusitis, it is important to consult a doctor for assessment and treatment. The doctor will likely prescribe medications to help relieve any possible infections and to help facilitate excess secretions. Learn more about the sinusitis medications your doctor may consider.

9. Migraine

A constant headache can be caused by a migraine. This type of headache is usually throbbing and affects only one side of the head. Other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and discomfort in bright or noisy environments can also occur with migraines.

Learn more about the classic migraine symptoms.

What to do: In these cases, you should drink plenty of fluids and avoid fasting. It is important to consult a neurologist to confirm a migraine diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment, which also involves the use of medications such as analgesics and anticonvulsants.

10. Brain tumor

The presence of a brain tumor can also cause constant headache in some cases. Patients may also experience symptoms such as seizures, weakness in parts of the body, nausea, vomiting and episodes of transient vision loss. Read more about symptoms of a brain tumor, and learn about specific symptoms that can occur when the tumor is found in certain areas of the brain.

Typically, the pain tends to be worse in the morning, when lying down, coughing or with intense exertion, like carrying heavy weights.

What to do: If a brain tumor is suspected, you should see a family doctor or neurologist for assessment. The doctor will order tests like a CT scan or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. The headache tends to improve with treatment of the tumor, which may involve measures such as surgery and chemotherapy.

How alleviate constant headaches

To alleviate a headache that persists all day, you can try lightly massaging the head. In addition to massage, you can also try the following strategies:

  • Apply a cold compress to the head, forehead or back of the neck to encourage constriction of blood vessels in the head
  • Rest in a calm, quiet and shady place
  • Drink a cup of cold water with some drops of lemon juice to rehydrate the body
  • Avoid staying in the sun for more than 1 hour, even if you are wearing a hat and sunglasses
  • Take an analgesic to treat the headache, like acetaminophen
  • Walk barefoot on the ground to relieve anxiety and stress
  • Drink a cinnamon tea to speed up menstruation if your headache is PMS-related

Despite the cause of the headache, the continued use of analgesics for over 3 days is not advised, as it can actually worsen the headache. Learn more about the different types of headaches and how they are treated.

Also recommended: 11 Teas for Headaches to Naturally Manage Pain

When to see the doctor

You are advised to consult your family doctor or a neurologist if your headache persists for 5 consecutive days. It is important to assess whether other symptoms are occurring with the headache, like vision changes or loss of balance.

The doctor will ask you several questions about your general health status. He or she may order testing to identify the cause the headache or to rule out if it is a migraine. Based on their findings, the doctor will guide the treatment for the headache. Learn about the natural ways you can relieve a headache, as a complement to treatment prescribed by the doctor.