Rare Gastroenterology News

Disease Profile

Hemicrania continua

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Nervous System Diseases


Hemicrania continua (HC) is a type of primary headache disorder, which means the headache is not caused by another medical condition. Symptoms of HC include constant mild to moderate pain on one side of the head (unilateral) with periods of more intense, severe, migraine-like pain (exacerbations). These severe pain periods can last from 20 minutes to days. The frequency of exacerbations also varies greatly. The headache stays on the same side of the head and usually without pain free periods. HC is more common in women and most often starts in adulthood, but may begin anywhere from 5 to 67 years of age.[1][2][3][4]

Diagnosis of hemicrania continua (HC) is made by ruling out other possible causes of the pain and by clinical symptoms. During the periods of severe pain, at least one of the following symptoms must be present on same side of the body as the headache: watering or red eyes (conjunctival injection), congested or runny nose, or drooping eyelid. In addition, the headache pain must respond to treatment with indomethacin. The cause of HC is unknown. Other treatments for those who cannot tolerate long term indomethacin therapy are being studied.[1][2][3][4]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

      In-Depth Information

      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Hemicrania continua. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Tepper D. Hemicrania Continua. Headache. June 2015; 55(6):919-920. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26084243.
        2. Garza I and Schwedt TJ. Diagnosis and management of chronic daily headache. Semin Neurol. April 2010; 30(2):154-166. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/723842_6.
        3. Krusz JK (Reviewer). Hemicrania Continua. American Migraine Foundation. March 10 2010; https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/living-with-migraines/types-of-headachemigraine/hemicrania-continua/.
        4. Hemicrania continua. The Migraine Trust. https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of-migraine/other-headache-disorders/hemicrania-continua/. Accessed 9/7/2016.