She was putting in her contacts, and all of a sudden got a headache. He got a cold, and got a headache. She woke up with a headache.
Some of this may sound familiar. But when it comes to new daily persistent headache (NDPH), the headache starts but never stops.
NDPH is diagnosed when the headache is constant for at least 3 months.
There are a number of different chronic headaches. Many people have headache all the time, but don’t have NDPH. How is it different from or the same as other headache types?
- NDPH starts suddenly, or over the course of a few days, but the start of it is remembered. Usually these patients don’t have a history of headache. But on a certain day, the headache starts, and it never stops. (If the patient can’t remember when the headache started, but the symptoms are similar to NDPH, it’s usually called chronic tension-type headache)
- It’s usually a mild to moderate pressing or tight headache, not often pulsating.
- The patient may have one of the following: sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, mild nausea. (If the nausea is severe or there’s vomiting, it’s diagnosed as a different type of chronic headache.)
- The headache is usually (not always) on both sides of the head.
- The headache is not made worse with physical activity.
- NDPH strikes all ages, and both men and women, though it seems to strike more women than men.
Remember, there are many types of chronic headache. These are symptoms typical to NDPH.
Sometimes NDPH can go away, though it generally takes several months of treatment.
But very often NDPH is very resistant to treatment. Years go by, and patients do not find relief.
How do specialists try to treat NDPH? Very often treatments are similar to treatments for migraine. And sometimes those treatments work. But there is no typical treatment, and remember we’re searching for better treatments, because many patients have not yet found anything that works well.
Patients tell their stories…
Increasingly, patients with NDPH are telling and sharing their stories. If you want to read about the experiences of people with NDPH, here are some places to start:
All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache by Paula Kamen. (amazon UK)The crazy adventures of over 10 years with NDPH. Also in Kindle format.
When a headache never goes away by Deborah Kotz of the Boston Globe. This article from earlier this year explores the stories of patients and doctors trying to treat NDPH.
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away by Jennette Fulda. (amazon UK) (also available on the Kindle) An honest and funny memoir about living with NDPH.
Living with NDPH, a blog from Amy, a mother and NDPH sufferer. Amy is also working on a book – hope we’ll see it soon!
If you’d like to learn more, you can listen to about an hour of questions and answers with Dr. George Nissan thanks to the National Headache Foundation. Listen here: