dr p k gupta


Splitting Headache

Splitting Headache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Photo illustrating the social fall of...

English: Photo illustrating the social fall of a patient provoked by its chronic tension-type headaches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: First page of the "On megrim, si...

English: First page of the “On megrim, sick-headache and some allied disorders, a contribution to the pathology of nerve-storms, London, J. and A. Churchill, New Burlington Street, 1873” book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I've had a migraine/headache for 6 days straig...

I’ve had a migraine/headache for 6 days straight. Today was so bad I couldn’t concentrate on what I was saying. I’m not even sure I knew WHAT I was saying because of the pain. I even mixed up two people’s names and felt really dumb afterwards. Anyone got a migraine cure? 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Headache is pain in any part of the head, including the scalp, face (including the orbitotemporal area), and interior of the head. Headache is one of the most common reasons patients seek medical attention. Pathophysiology Headache is due to activation of pain-sensitive structures in or around the brain, skull, face, sinuses, or teeth. Etiology Headache may occur as a primary disorder or be secondary to another disorder. Primary headache disorders include migraine, cluster headache (including chronic paroxysmal hemicrania and hemicrania continua), and tension-type headache. Secondary headache has numerous causes (see Table 1: Headache: Disorders Causing Secondary Headache). Overall, the most common causes of headache are Tension-type headache Migraine Some causes of headache are common; others are important to recognize because they are dangerous, require specific treatment, or both (see Table 2: Headache: Some Characteristics of Headache Disorders by Cause). Table 1 Disorders Causing Secondary Headache Cause Examples Extracranial disorders Carotid or vertebral artery dissection (which also causes neck pain) Dental disorders (eg, infection, temporomandibular joint dysfunction) Glaucoma Sinusitis Intracranial disorders Brain tumors and other masses Chiari type I malformation CSF leak with low-pressure headache Hemorrhage (intracerebral, subdural, subarachnoid) Idiopathic intracranial hypertension Infections (eg, abscess, encephalitis, meningitis, subdural empyema) Meningitis, noninfectious (eg, carcinomatous, chemical) Obstructive hydrocephalus Vascular disorders (eg, vascular malformations, vasculitis, venous sinus thrombosis) Systemic disorders Acute severe hypertension Bacteremia Fever Giant cell arteritis Hypercapnia Hypoxia (including altitude sickness) Viral infections Viremia Drugs and toxins Analgesic overuse Caffeine withdrawal Carbon monoxide Hormones (eg, estrogen) Nitrates Proton pump inhibitors Table 2 Some Characteristics of Headache Disorders by Cause Cause Suggestive Findings Diagnostic Approach Primary headache disorders* Cluster headache Unilateral orbitotemporal attacks at the same time of day Deep, severe, lasting 30–180 min Often with lacrimation, facial flushing, or Horner syndrome; restlessness Clinical evaluation Migraine headache Frequently unilateral and pulsating, lasting 4–72 h Occasionally with aura, nausea, photophobia, sonophobia, or osmophobia Worse with activity, preference to lie in the dark, resolution with sleep Clinical evaluation Tension-type headache Frequent or continuous, mild, bilateral, and viselike occipital or frontal pain that spreads to entire head Worse at end of day Clinical evaluation Secondary headache Acute angle-closure glaucoma Unilateral Halos around lights, decreased visual acuity, conjunctival injection, vomiting Tonometry Encephalitis Fever, altered mental status, seizures, focal neurologic deficits MRI, CSF analysis Giant cell arteritis Age > 55 Unilateral throbbing pain, pain when combing hair, visual disturbances, jaw claudication, fever, weight loss, sweats, temporal artery tenderness, proximal myalgias ESR, temporal artery biopsy, usually neuroimaging Idiopathic intracranial hypertension Migraine-like headache, diplopia, pulsatile tinnitus, loss of peripheral vision, papilledema Neuroimaging (preferably MRI with magnetic resonance venography), followed by measurement of CSF opening pressure Intracerebral hemorrhage Sudden onset Vomiting, focal neurologic deficits, altered mental status Neuroimaging Meningitis Fever, meningismus, altered mental status CSF analysis, often preceded by CT Sinusitis Positional facial or tooth pain, fever, purulent rhinorrhea Clinical evaluation, sometimes CT Subarachnoid hemorrhage Peak intensity a few seconds after headache onset (thunderclap headache) Vomiting, syncope, obtundation, meningismus Neuroimaging, followed by CSF analysis if it is not contraindicated and imaging is not diagnostic Subdural hematoma (chronic) Sleepiness, altered mental status, hemiparesis, loss of spontaneous venous pulsations, papilledema Presence of risk factors (eg, older age, coagulopathy, dementia, anticoagulant use, ethanol abuse) Neuroimaging Tumor or mass Eventually altered mental status, seizures, vomiting, diplopia when looking laterally, loss of spontaneous venous pulsations or papilledema, focal neurologic deficits Neuroimaging * Primary headaches are usually recurrent. Evaluation Evaluation focuses on determining whether a secondary headache is present and checking for symptoms that suggest a serious cause. If no cause or serious symptoms are identified, evaluation focuses on diagnosing primary headache disorders. History: History of present illness includes questions about headache location, duration, severity, onset (eg, sudden, gradual), and quality (eg, throbbing, constant, intermittent, pressure-like). Exacerbating and remitting factors (eg, head position, time of day, sleep, light, sounds, physical activity, odors, chewing) are noted. If the patient has had previous or recurrent headaches, the previous diagnosis (if any) needs to be identified, and whether the current headache is similar or different needs to be determined. For recurrent headaches, age at onset, frequency of episodes, temporal pattern (including any relationship to phase of menstrual cycle), and response to treatments (including OTC treatments) are noted. Review of systems should seek symptoms suggesting a cause, including Vomiting: Migraine, increased intracranial pressure Fever: Infection (eg, encephalitis, meningitis, sinusitis) Red eye and/or visual symptoms (halos, blurring): Acute angle-closure glaucoma Visual field deficits, diplopia, or blurring vision: Ocular migraine, brain mass lesion, or idiopathic intracranial hypertension Lacrimation and facial flushing: Cluster headache Rhinorrhea: Sinusitis Pulsatile tinnitus: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension Preceding aura: Migraine Focal neurologic deficit: Encephalitis, meningitis, intracerebral hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, tumor, or other mass lesion Seizures: Encephalitis, tumor, or other mass lesion Syncope at headache onset: Subarachnoid hemorrhage Myalgias and/or vision changes (in people > 55 yr): Giant cell arteritis Past medical history should identify risk factors for headache, including exposure to drugs, substances (particularly caffeine), and toxins (see Table 1: Headache: Disorders Causing Secondary Headache), recent lumbar puncture, immunosuppressive disorders or IV drug use (risk of infection); hypertension (risk of brain hemorrhage); cancer (risk of brain metastases); and dementia, trauma, coagulopathy, or use of anticoagulants or ethanol (risk of subdural hematoma). Family and social history should include any family history of headaches, particularly because migraine headache may be undiagnosed in family members. To streamline data collection, clinicians can ask patients to fill out an online headache questionnaire that covers most of the relevant medical history pertinent to diagnosis of headache; it is available at ProMyHealth. Patients may complete the questionnaire before their visit and bring the results with them. Physical examination: Vital signs, including temperature, are measured. General appearance (eg, whether restless or calm in a dark room) is noted. A general examination, with a focus on the head and neck, and a full neurologic examination are done. The scalp is examined for areas of swelling and tenderness. The ipsilateral temporal artery is palpated, and both temporomandibular joints are palpated for tenderness and crepitance while the patient opens and closes the jaw. The eyes and periorbital area are inspected for lacrimation, flushing, and conjunctival injection. Pupillary size and light responses, extraocular movements, and visual fields are assessed. The fundi are checked for spontaneous venous pulsations and papilledema. If patients have vision-related symptoms or eye abnormalities, visual acuity is measured. If the conjunctiva is red, the anterior chamber and cornea are examined with a slit lamp if possible, and intraocular pressure is measured. The nares are inspected for purulence. The oropharynx is inspected for swellings, and the teeth are percussed for tenderness. Neck is flexed to detect discomfort, stiffness, or both, indicating meningismus. The cervical spine is palpated for tenderness. Red flags: The following findings are of particular concern: Neurologic symptoms or signs (eg, altered mental status, weakness, diplopia, papilledema, focal neurologic deficits) Immunosuppression or cancer Meningismus Onset of headache after age 50 Thunderclap headache (severe headache that peaks within a few seconds) Symptoms of giant cell arteritis (eg, visual disturbances, jaw claudication, fever, weight loss, temporal artery tenderness, proximal myalgias) Systemic symptoms (eg, fever, weight loss) Progressively worsening headache Red eye and halos around lights Interpretation of findings: If similar headaches recur in patients who appear well and have a normal examination, the cause is rarely ominous. Headaches that have recurred since childhood or young adulthood suggest a primary headache disorder. If headache type or pattern clearly changes in patients with a known primary headache disorder, secondary headache should be considered. Most single symptoms of primary headache disorders other than aura are nonspecific. A combination of symptoms and signs is more characteristic (see Table 2: Headache: Some Characteristics of Headache Disorders by Cause). Red flag findings suggest a cause (see Table 3: Headache: Matching Red Flag Findings with a Cause for Headache). Table 3 Matching Red Flag Findings with a Cause for Headache Suggestive Findings Causes Neurologic symptoms or signs (eg, altered mental status, confusion, neurogenic weakness, diplopia, papilledema, focal neurologic deficits) Encephalitis, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid or intracerebral hemorrhage, tumor, other intracranial mass, increased intracranial pressure Immunosuppression or cancer CNS infection, metastases Meningismus Meningitis, subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural empyema Onset of headache after age 50 Increased risk of a serious cause (eg, tumor, giant cell arteritis) Thunderclap headache (severe headache that peaks within a few seconds) Subarachnoid hemorrhage Combination of fever, weight loss, visual disturbances, jaw claudication, temporal artery tenderness, and proximal myalgias Giant cell arteritis Systemic symptoms (eg, fever, weight loss) Sepsis, hyperthyroidism, cancer Progressively worsening headache Secondary headache Red eye and halos around lights Acute angle-closure glaucoma Testing: Most patients can be diagnosed without testing. However, some serious disorders may require urgent or immediate testing. Some patients require tests as soon as possible. CT (or MRI) should be done in patients with any of the following findings: Thunderclap headache Altered mental status Meningismus Papilledema Signs of sepsis (eg, rash, shock) Acute focal neurologic deficit Severe hypertension (eg, systolic > 220 mm Hg or diastolic > 120 mm Hg on consecutive readings) In addition, if meningitis, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or encephalitis is being considered, lumbar puncture and CSF analysis should be done, if not contraindicated by imaging results. Tonometry should be done if findings suggest acute narrow-angle glaucoma (eg, visual halos, nausea, corneal edema, shallow anterior chamber). Other testing should be done within hours or days, depending on the acuity and seriousness of findings and suspected causes. Neuroimaging, usually MRI, should be done if patients have any of the following: Focal neurologic deficit of subacute or uncertain onset Age > 50 yr Weight loss Cancer HIV infection or AIDS Change in an established headache pattern Diplopia ESR should be done if patients have visual symptoms, jaw or tongue claudication, temporal artery signs, or other findings suggesting giant cell arteritis. CT of the paranasal sinuses is done to rule out complicated sinusitis if patients have a moderately severe systemic illness (eg, high fever, dehydration, prostration, tachycardia) and findings suggesting sinusitis (eg, frontal, positional headache, epistaxis, purulent rhinorrhea). Lumbar puncture and CSF analysis are done if headache is progressive and findings suggest idiopathic intracranial hypertension (eg, transient obscuration of vision, diplopia, pulsatile intracranial tinnitus) or chronic meningitis (eg, persistent low-grade fever, cranial neuropathies, cognitive impairment, lethargy, vomiting, focal neurologic deficits). Treatment Treatment of headache is directed at the cause. Geriatrics Essentials New-onset headache after age 50 should be considered a secondary disorder until proven otherwise. Key Points Recurrent headaches that began at a young age in patients with a normal examination are usually benign. Immediate neuroimaging is recommended for patients with altered mental status, seizures, papilledema, focal neurologic deficits, or thunderclap headache. CSF analysis is required for patients with meningismus and usually, after neuroimaging, for immunosuppressed patients. Patients with thunderclap headache require CSF analysis even if CT and examination findings are normal.

One comment

  1. Using the accessibility to vast strategies and information from the internet and newsletters,
    funds must always think extra ordinary and thus accordingly take his or steps.
    Even as dealing in penny stocks, you should be very clear as to if you wish so that you can
    trade or invest.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: