A rare headache that is often confused with tension headaches is new daily persistent headaches or (NDPHs). This type of a headache is relatively new. It was described in 1986 by Dr. Vansat. These are headaches that occur every day continuously for at least 3 months.
Causes of New Daily Persistent Headaches
The cause of NDPH is not well-defined. NDPH develops suddenly and in people that do not have a history of headaches. About 1 in 3 people experience an extreme illness such as influenza prior to its development. Another smaller subset underwent a stressful event or surgery prior to NDPH. However, 50% did not have a specific cause for the pain.
Symptoms of New Daily Persistent Headaches
NDPHs occur anywhere on the head on both sides. Half of NDPHs have migraine characteristics such as hypersensitivity to light and noise and nausea. The other half is similar to tension-type headaches. Despite their differences, there is little that can be done to treat the pain for either NDPH. Most patients develop NDPH in their mid-thirties. Women are twice as likely to develop a headache as men.
Testing for Other Causes
Most testing surrounding NDPH is done to rule out any specific cases or more severe illnesses from which the headaches may have arisen, specifically brain damage or bleeding is examined using various imaging techniques. Blood tests are also done to ensure that anemia, a change in blood cell ratios or overmedication is not the source of the pain.
How long do these headaches last?
Unfortunately, it is not clear when these headaches will go away. Some forms go away. Other forms persist with or without treatment. Some studies have estimated that most patients will experience relief after 3 years. However, several patients have been identified that have had NDPH for over 5 years.
Treatments for NDPH
A clear treatment for these headaches is also not clear. Some people have responded to the typical preventative treatments while others are unresponsive to most. There is some evidence that treatment with botulinum toxin type A may be effective in some patients. However, much more research is needed before any concrete conclusions can be made.