Author | Seymour Diamond, MD

Articles

Boy With Frequent, Severe Unilateral Headaches

May 02, 2008

A 14-year-old boy presents with frequent severe headaches characterized by sharp, throbbing pain behind his left eye and left temple.

SSRIs and Triptans: Safe as Combination Therapy?

February 01, 2008

Depression was diagnosed 6 years earlier in a 37-year-old woman; it has been successfully managed since then with fluoxetine and outpatient psychotherapy. Since her teenage years, the patient has also experienced sporadic (fewer than 3 or 4 per year) mild or occasionally severe headaches, which she has usually self-treated with over-thecounter (OTC) agents or "just slept off."

Woman With Short-Lasting, Strictly Unilateral Headaches

October 01, 2007

A 47-year-old woman complains of severe headaches that involve only the right orbital, temporal, and occipital areas. She describes the pain as sharp and stabbing, and she rates its severity as 9 or 10 on a 10-point visual analog scale.

Two Women With Severe Headaches: Different Symptoms, Similar Approaches

May 01, 2007

The headaches vary in severity, but she usually has severeheadaches (8 on a 10-point visual analog scale[VAS]) once or twice a week; she describes the latter assevere throbbing or pounding pain on the top of thehead but also involving the occipital and frontalareas and occasionally one or the other temple.

Woman With Daily Headaches That Have Become Refractory to Triptans

January 01, 2007

A 30-year-old woman complains that her headaches no longer respond to triptans; instead, they have increased in frequencyand severity. The pain interferes with her ability to work part-time and to take care of her 16-month-old daughter.

Boy With Severe Weekly Headaches Associated With GI Upset

December 31, 2006

A 12-year-old boy complains of severe weekly headaches that last 2 to 3 hours. The pain involves both sides ofthe head and the frontal and occipital areas. Occasionally during a headache, the patient complains of some abdominaldiscomfort and pain. He becomes passive and irritable during the headache; he does not want to be aroundpeople, play, or even watch TV. The patient’s parents note that a few hours before a headache, he becomes somewhatrestless and agitated. The headaches started about 1 year earlier, and the headache pattern (frequency, duration,location of pain, and associated symptoms) has not changed since that time. The patient’s mother and maternalgrandmother suffer from migraine.

Prescribing for Headache

December 31, 2006

A 30-year-old woman complains that her headaches no longer respond to triptans; instead, they have increased in frequencyand severity. The pain interferes with her ability to work part-time and to take care of her 16-month-old daughter.About 12 years earlier, the patient started having migraine headaches. She had no significant medical history, norwas there any obvious precipitating event. Typically, she had 1 or 2 debilitating headaches a month. These were accompaniedby photophobia, nausea, and vomiting-but not by auras. Oral triptans usually relieved the pain and associatedsymptoms within 1 hour.

Unmasking the Cause of an "Alarm Clock" Headache

December 31, 2006

Primary care doctor: Because of the patient’s age and theabsence of a headache history, I first considered such secondarycauses as tumor and temporal arteritis. However,MRI of the brain and erythrocyte sedimentation rate werenormal. I now suspect a sleep-related headache becausethe attacks occur only at night and awaken the patientfrom a sound sleep. How can I determine which type ofsleep-related headache is involved?

Transient Global Amnesia: A Confusing Companion of Migraine

December 31, 2006

Clinician: The patient’s symptom profile is confusing, especiallybecause his test results are normal. Are his amnesicepisodes related to his migraine?

Woman With Dull Daily Headaches and Episodic “Knockout” Attacks

December 31, 2006

A 40-year-old woman reports increasingly frequent and severe headaches during the past few months. She has had boutsof severe headaches since college, and episodic migraine was diagnosed a decade ago. She uses over-the-counter products(ibuprofen, ketoprofen, or aspirin) at the onset of an attack; if these fail to relieve symptoms, she takes hydrocodone/acetaminophen. During her worst attacks, she is typically forced to halt her activities, is unable to eat or drink, and mayvomit. For unresponsive or persistent (more than 24-hour) attacks, her husband drives her to the urgent care centerfor intravenous hydration, intramuscular promethazine, and additional doses of hydrocodone/acetaminophen. Accordingto the patient, a visit to the urgent care center “completely ruins our day.”