This my nagging Headache!

Nagging Chronic Headache

Deadlines, computer screens, phone calls, boss on my neck, vendor palava, and the list can be unending sometimes. Little wonder why headaches are the commonest complains in the work environment. There are different types of headaches and are classified according to their characteristic nature which often points to its cause. The commonest by far is the ‘regular’ occasional headaches which we call Tension Headaches. It usually feels like a tight pressure or band around the head causing a painful ache within the entire head. Almost anyone at some point gets this type of headache and it typically occurs once in a while without a person feeling physically ill. A simple dose of paracetamol works like magic for tension headaches. And guess what! It is classically caused by Mental Stress, the type that comes after a long day at the office with the all the drama involved (you know what I mean).


Tension headaches may not necessarily point to any other disease condition in the body but it can be quite a distraction and contributes to a significant amount of time lost from work. More importantly, it becomes a source for concern where it becomes a frequent and almost daily occurrence especially when you have personalized it as this my nagging headache. At this point, we call it a ‘Chronic Tension Headache’. Slow down now, before jumping into conclusions based on your assumptions, ‘Chronicity’ in medicine is only a time-based descriptive terminology depicting a condition that has been existing over a long period of time (usually over three months). In medical lexicon, it is not synonymous with ‘Severity’; it is just a direct opposite of an Acute (meaning sudden/recent) condition. Invariably, the body may have developed a form of adaptation to manage an existing chronic condition unlike an acute condition that may require immediate medical attention.

Different Causes of Headache -Close Me

  • Mental stress- including depression or anxiety
  • Prolonged sleep deprivation
  • Muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Eye strain from long hours working at a computer or reading in dim light
  • Intense hunger
  • Ailments like Malaria, Typhoid fever
  • ‘Hangovers’ from excessive alcohol intake
  • Uncontrolled High blood pressure
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain tumour

Headaches in general has many causes (see box above). Having said that, here is the concern for a nagging headache- For work related nagging headaches, the commonest trend is that most people unconsciously get used to swallowing paracetamol for relieve but overtime, their bodies would get used to the pills and they become of non-effect. So not only have they just lost their source of relief, some people actually develop a ‘Rebound Headache’ when the drug is not taken- more like, now the body misses its daily supply! Although we don’t naturally visit the doctor for a head ache but in this scenario it is best to visit a doctor. Especially if you have noticed any of these red flags which connote a sinister underlying medical disorder such as:

  • Accompanying weakness in either hands or leg
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • A fit (Convulsion)
  • More intense with coughing, sex or early in the morning
  • Recent falls or head injury
  • Have hypertension

THE SOLUTION? Oh well, I hate to burst your bubble if you are expecting any wonder-drug prescription here because the truth is, while immediate relief will come with over the counter drugs like Ibruprofen (which you cannot afford to abuse because of the risk of stomach ulcer), overall improvement will come with the following tips:

Practical tips to handle recurrent nagging headaches

  1. First things first, deal with the underlying stressful factor- not that you should quit your job but find ways to reduce your stress at work e.g. use background music, delegate more, shout less, in fact, enroll for a stress management program if necessary
  2. Don’t take pain killers for headache beyond 2-3 days in a row
  3. Don’t attempt to play smart by taking pain killers before a headache in a bid to prevent one
  4. Correct irregular eating and sleep patterns
  5. Consciously stop sitting in poor postures while at work
  6. Where possible, use a screen protector
  7. Utilize your breaks and put down those ear pieces you have been wearing since morning

And when you are not at work, try not to carry the office back home. You should adopt a favorite relaxation technique- watching movies, viewing old family albums, whatever eases you. If you have been stuck on coffee, convert to decaffeinated coffee and likewise stop alcohol abuse too. There is definitely a place for exercise especially the likes of yoga perhaps for its soothing relaxation techniques. There are also several accounts of found help in acupuncture (at least, they don’t have side effects like drugs).


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