by Nesreen Suwan, M.D.
Headache is a common neurological disorder that has been underestimated and under-treated by both patients and physicians. Headaches can be serious just by being debilitating, compromising functionality and the quality of life of sufferers, such as migraine and chronic tension headaches. Some headaches can be more serious if they are caused by underlying medical conditions that could be life-threatening.
Red flags that may point to underlying serious medical conditions include, but are not limited to: new onset headaches at mid- or late life, worsening in frequency or intensity of chronic headaches; history of being awakened by headaches; headaches that are aggravated by cough, sexual activity or exercise, or changing positions; headaches that are associated with weakness, numbness, blurring or loss of vision, or alteration or loss of consciousness. Headaches can be serious as well if they are associated with fever, neck stiffness, mental status changes, history of recent head trauma or fall, or alteration or loss of consciousness.
Head pain can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions such as the presence of brain bleeding, infections, abnormal vessels in the brain, elevated or diminished pressure of the fluid around the nervous system, and inflammatory conditions of the blood vessels. Headaches could also be related to brain tumors, congenital abnormalities in the brain, such as low-lying brain or abnormal cysts in the brain. Some headaches have been related to cervical spine arthritis or disc protrusion.
Many types of headaches may coexist in the same patient. It is not unusual for patients to have a combination of tension headache and migraine. On the other hand, a patient with chronic tension headache and/or migraine may develop any secondary headaches that are related to brain bleeding, infection, tumor ... etc.
Determining if the patient is suffering from one type or multiple types of headaches is very crucial, and identifying where the headache is coming from is the first step in any successful headache management. The most important step in any headache management is accurate diagnosis. This is obtained by thorough evaluation by a neurologist specializing in headaches. After establishing the accurate diagnosis, headache management would never be obtained by consuming analgesics and painkillers. Many options are available, based on the type of your headache.
If you are a headache or chronic pain sufferer, you do not have to drive long distances for a specialty headache clinic. N. Suwan, MD is conveniently available at your locality.
Dr. Suwan is a headache and fibromyalgia specialist. She is a board-certified neurologist and is board certified in pain medicine and sleep medicine with extra certification in headache medicine, with offices in Lisle, Hinsdale, and Chicago.
Phone: (630) 420-8080
Where Is My Headache Coming From?
As Featured In Glancer Magazine, December 2013