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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Mild Daily Headaches...possible causes?

 ToddP - Mon Mar 22, 2004 1:54 pm

I'm hoping you can list the possible causes of this phenomenon.

Everyday for the past month or so, I wake up feeling fine and normal. However, as the day progresses, I develop a mild (not even painful) sense of pressure in my head. I call them "headaches" for lack of a better word. Let me give you some other info.

-Left ear feels a slight pressure...almost like altitude pressure.
-Very sore and tender neck/shoulders - I have knots all over.
-Occasional (once or twice) pressure behind left eye.
-When I dwell on it, I feel nausea...*very* slightly...nowhere near vomiting.
-Pressure sensation on crown of head...mostly left side, but sometimes elsewhere.
-No change in vision.
-Exercise, sex, massage of head and neck, and hottub tend to relieve symptoms to varying degrees.
-I have been extremely stressed for a long period of time.
-I have taken no medication other than aspirin.
-No consistent history of headaches.
-Borderline high BP on last visit to doctor.
-I am a 27 year old male, slightly overweight
-I walk about 3 miles per day and eat reasonably well.
-No illegal drug use.

---Just to reiterate: This is NEVER painful.

Based on the research I have done on your website, the sensations I feel seem to most closely resemble either anxiety or chronic tension headaches (or both). Is this a fair analysis? I would like to rule brain tumor as highly unlikely since I do not sound like this (I think...) "Brain tumor: Intermittent deep, dull aching of moderate intensity, which may worsen with exertion or change in position and may be associated with nausea and vomiting."

Am I correct in assessing these probabilities? If it does sound like anxiety/tension, what are some strategies to minimize the symptoms?

I'm obviously worried (which seems to make it worse)...Please tell me what you think.

 Dr. Russell M - Mon Mar 29, 2004 9:33 am

User avatar Hi!

I think you have made reasonably fair assessment of your ache.

Headache is caused by irritation or injury to pain-sensing structures of the head. The structures that can sense pain include the scalp, the muscles of the neck and head, major arteries and veins in the head, the sinuses, and the tissues that surround the brain.

Headache may occur when these structures suffer compression, spasm, tension, inflammation, or irritation. The brain has no nerve endings so the brain itself cannot "hurt."

Research into the mechanisms of various headache types continues, and new theories arise frequently. Specifically, the causes of mild tension-type headache are not completely understood, and debate continues regarding the cause.

* A common theory involves nerve endings in the head that are irritated by tight muscles in the neck, face, and scalp, along with irritation to the arteries and veins nearby.

* The events that trigger mild headache vary widely among people who get headaches. Each person seems to have his or her own pattern.

* Common headache triggers

o Stress

o Before, during, or after menstruation

o Muscle tension in the back and neck

o Exhaustion

o Hunger

o Medications (Many drugs designed to relieve pain can actually cause headache when the drug is stopped after a period of prolonged use.)

o Alcohol and caffeine withdrawal

* Other causes of headache

o Household hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning: If the headaches are recurrent or worse each morning or if more than 1 person in the household experiences the same type of headache, there may be an excessive level of carbon monoxide in the air. Carbon monoxide poisoning comes from faulty heaters or stoves that do not have proper exhaust to the outside of the house. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the building immediately and do not return until the levels of carbon monoxide are checked.

o Headache associated with eye pain and vomiting: These headaches often indicate an eye disease called glaucoma and warrant immediate medical attention, or vision can be permanently harmed.

o Headache that occurs with neck stiffness or pain, light sensitivity, fever, and confusion: These types of headaches could mean meningitis. This is a true medical emergency and needs immediate attention.


Most people with tension-type headache find relief with over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

* Certain people may require prescription-strength pain relievers for particularly severe episodes.

* Frequent use of medications to treat symptoms of headache may actually cause episodic tension-type headache to become chronic in nature.

Medical Treatment

Doctors will suggest over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and other NSAIDs. These provide relief for most people with tension-type headache.


Prescription-strength pain relievers may be given once the doctor has a better understanding of a person's headache and other coexisting medical conditions. Doctors are careful, however, to prevent people from becoming dependent on strong narcotic drugs, especially when headaches come back again and again.

For headache pain that cannot be controlled with pain relievers, doctors may prescribe preventive therapy such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, or anticonvulsants.


Hope this helps.

Warm regards,


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