Portrait of man suffering from new daily persistent headache through seasons and night

Living With Migraine and New Daily Persistent Headache

Living with migraine disease is tough, but so many of us migraine sufferers also live with other conditions. Some may be due to migraine disease, while others are not. I live with migraine, depression, gastric reflux, insomnia, and new daily persistent headache. Some of these are common to have when you suffer from migraines. Others are no so common. I do my best to keep these all in check, but some days do get the better of me, and I have to wait for the ugliness to pass. One of the most difficult for me to manage has been new daily persistent headache.

What is NDPH?

According to the American Migraine Foundation, new daily persistent headache (NDPH) is a primary headache disorder. It is primary because another condition does not cause it. NDPH is an unusual disorder because it can happen in both a person with or without headache issues. I was suffering from episodic migraines when I developed NDPH. One of the hallmark features of NDPH is that the sufferer can remember the specific date the condition started. For me, that was September 23, 2012. It also can present itself with migraine-like symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and throbbing pain. It can also look similar to a tension headache. There is often no clear trigger for NDPH, but it can occur after an infectious illness or surgery. I had gall bladder surgery three weeks before the onset of my attack.

Getting an official diagnosis

I saw a headache/migraine specialist at the University of South Florida for my migraine attacks already, so I quickly scheduled an appointment. I was concerned because the day of my NDPH attack, I woke up abruptly at 5 am feeling as if I was hit in the back of my head with a 2x4. It was not a migraine attack as usual, but this was more severe with its onset. I did try to treat it like I would a migraine attack, but it wouldn’t relent. This painful attack just would not go away. At my appointment, the doctor took her time peppering my wife and me about this attack and how it uncured and manifested itself. I had to have an MRI, which was normal. I had a spinal tap to rule out any issues with spinal fluid pressure. It was a long process to endure, and I’m glad my wife was there to be my advocate and keep things straight. After all my tests were in, my doctor diagnosed me with NDPH. For me, it was just another thing to have to deal with alongside migraine disease.

A never ending headache

Having to live with NDPH is just as challenging as living with migraines. The biggest exception is NDPH never stops. EVER. It’s always there. From the time I awaken, the first thing I generally feel is the headache in the back of my head. It is not always a bad headache, and I’m tempted to treat it like one with Tylenol or Advil, but that’s a dangerous gamble as it can easily lead to medication overuse headaches which are another beast I’ve had to deal with, and that’s no fun at all.

Learning to live with it

After having it for nine years, I’ve learned to live with it. I am careful to watch out for things that trigger migraine attacks because NDPH has lowered my threshold for a migraine attack. Having a ‘new’ headache every day wears on me, but having chronic migraine has boosted my pain tolerance. I just continue to take things one day at a time. I’m kind to myself on the roughest days, and I focus on things that soothe my head, like soft music. I feel for others who suffer from this condition. It can be managed so remember to be patient and kind as you travel on this journey.

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