For many people, migraine headaches only occur a few times a year or even a couple times a month. However, some people end up dealing with regular migraines that start occurring nearly every day. These headaches are known as “transformed migraines,” and it’s important to diagnose them and their underlying cause to find the best treatment for the problem.
A transformed migraine is a migraine that begins to manifest in regular episodes of migraine attacks, and they typically begin to increase in frequency and may change characteristics. Headaches may become less severe, but they may start occurring nearly daily. However, severe, debilitating migraine attacks may still take place.
Although transformed migraines generally develop over a period of months or years, it’s thought that regularly using pain relievers and migraine medications may trigger transformation to occur. Patients may build up a tolerance to the medications they are taking. Certain pain relievers that contain caffeine may also trigger rebound headaches. Other health problems may also trigger transformed migraines, such as depression and high blood pressure.
There’s no exact data on the number of people affected by this type of migraine, but most of the people who experience them have a history of migraines that started when they were young. Most patients affected by transformed migraines are women, and approximately 90 percent of them have experienced migraines with aura in the past.
Usually, the transformation process takes place over months or years, until the patient begins getting the migraines daily. The attacks are often accompanied by nausea, phonophobia and photophobia, but the symptoms become less frequent and severe. Transformed migraines include a pattern of daily or nearly daily headaches that seem to be a combination of migraine attacks and tension headaches. The pain may be only mild to moderate instead of the intense pain that comes with severe migraines. Other symptoms of migraines may continue, including stomach symptoms and unilateral pain.
If you begin to have daily migraine headaches, even if they aren’t as severe as your normal migraines, it’s important to see a migraine specialist. A specialist can help you figure out if you’re dealing with transformed migraines and then work with you to find an effective, safe treatment.