Daily Headache? Chronic Migraine: Symptoms & Treatment

What is chronic migraine?

Chronic migraine is a severe and long-term condition. It has a huge impact on sufferers’ quality of life.

A chronic migraine is a headache for 15 or more days a month, with typical migraine symptoms on at least eight of those days.

About 1–2% of people worldwide get chronic migraine. In other words, 10–20 out of every 1,000 people regularly have chronic migraine.

Chronic migraine affects the sufferer’s health. It also affects their ability to work, meet with friends, and perform their daily tasks. It is very important that this condition is understood and managed.

Symptoms of chronic migraine

A chronic migraine is a headache for 15 or more days a month, with typical migraine symptoms on at least eight of those days.

Typical migraine symptoms are:

  • Frequent or daily headaches. These often stop the person from doing their daily activities.

  • Dislike for bright lights and loud sounds. People can find it difficult to go into bright and noisy places such as supermarkets.

  • Sickness and vomiting. These are common symptoms.

  • Seeing auras. People can see shapes, light flashes or lose their vision for a time. Sometimes, they may even see effects to their speech or motor skills.

Causes and Triggers

What causes chronic migraines can be tough to pin down. This is because they can be caused or triggered by various things. Some people might find their migraines are linked to feeling stressed or worried. They can also be linked to having other pain conditions (like fibromyalgia) or not sleeping well.

Here are some of the causes and triggers:

  • Poor mental health. Feeling stressed, depressed or worried can lead to migraines.

  • Other pain conditions. Conditions like fibromyalgia can be a trigger.

  • Sleep issues. Not sleeping well can make migraines more frequent. Poor sleep can include conditions like sleep apnoea.

  • Eating the wrong things. Some food and drink can trigger a migraine. It’s a good idea to notice if any food or drink seem to make your headaches worse.

  • Certain smells. Fear or dislike of some smells (osmophobia) are linked with migraine symptoms.

Living with chronic migraine

Living with chronic migraine can be emotionally and physically taxing. The toll can lead to a reduced quality of life. For this reason, people need to be able to manage their migraines.

Is it a migraine?

Diagnosis of a migraine is needed if you are to manage your condition. This process usually involves:

  • A medical history review

  • Analysis of your symptoms

  • Tests of your brain and nerve functions

It’s good to keep a headache diary. Record the frequency and length of your migraines. Note down how bad they are, any symptoms and what triggered them. This really helps your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.


Migraines can be treated with medicine and in other ways. You can see what medicine you can take by filling in our survey. This is a good idea if you have had migraines before. It will allow you to prepare in case you have another one.

Treatments include:

  • Medications such as NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen).

  • Treatments to prevent migraines before they start. These include beta-blockers and medicine to lower your CGRP levels.

  • Techniques like stress management and lifestyle changes.

Medicines designed to treat migraine include:

  • Sumatriptan tablets. This reduces your pain during a migraine attack. It comes in pill form.

  • Imigran. This comes as a pill or a nasal spray. A nasal spray is good for people who feel or are being sick. It offers quick relief.

  • Rizatriptan. Targets migraine symptoms when they start.

  • Maxalt Melt (rizatriptan). This is a tablet that quickly melts in the mouth. It is good for people who do not have access to water.

  • Zomig (Zolmitriptan). This treats migraine headaches and sickness.

You can see more types of migraine medicine by going to Click Pharmacy's migraine section.

Recently, studies have shown that atogepant is good at shortening the length of migraines. This drug offers a new way to treat migraines that shows promise.

Managing chronic migraine

People with chronic migraine need to find ways that can help them to deal with it. Support from their family and doctors is crucial. Online forums can provide emotional support from people who have the same condition.

Symptoms can be lessened by regular sleep patterns, healthy eating and managing stress. Gentle exercise and relaxation can also help.

Headache and migraine organizations provide useful information and tips on their websites.

Chronic migraines: FAQs

Are migraines a disability?

Under the UK Equality Act 2010 (section 6), a person has a disability if:

  • They have a physical or mental impairment, and

  • The impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

In a 2022 legal case, the court looked at whether chronic migraines could be considered a disability under UK law. The courts said that the migraines were a physical problem. However, they decided that they were not a disability.

The court said the migraines did not have a significant and long-lasting impact on the person's daily activities.

Why do I keep getting migraines?

If you find yourself constantly battling migraines, it's crucial to understand that various factors can be at play. Chronic migraines can stem from a mix of genetic makeup, your environment, and specific lifestyle habits.

Key triggers include:

  • Stress and Mental Health

  • Physical Health Conditions

  • Dietary Triggers

  • Sensory Sensitivities

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