What to tell my doctor about severe headaches, usually at 1a.m.?

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    Since '97 I have been awakened at night, around 1AM with a severe headache, cannot lay down and am stuck either sitting or going into a darkened warm shower. These had occurred 3-4 times per year, sometimes less. Recently one started while awake, and I had no sleep. Then the next week I had another. The headaches last between 6-10 hours, then I'm usually fine, with no symptoms.


    However lately I've been getting some headache "twinges" earlier on in the evening, but not manifesting into the full-blown one.  On occasion, I have a somewhat lessened headache in the morning upon awakening, but doesn't last long. I have used a Vicodin, but that did nothing at all.

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    Just wondering your thoughts, am seeing my doctor on Friday, and am wondering what specifically to tell him.  I do take blood pressure meds, and drink beer, but not excessively, 1-2 per evening.


    Thank you, Neal.





    Dear Neal;


    Tell your doctor what you've told us. Also, sit down and list dates, times, and any other details you can think of. The more you can tell your doctor, the better. You can download a Migraine and headache diary workbook free to see if it will help you from our article Your Migraine and Headache Diary.


    This is way too long to live with headaches, especially when they're unexplained. Unexplained headaches should always be checked out. Statistically, they're unlikely to be dangerous, but you certainly don't want to find yourself on the wrong end of those statistics.


    We hope your doctor has some answers for you. If your doctor isn’t able to help you, it may well be time to consult a Migraine and headache specialist. It’s important to note that neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. Take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, check our listing of Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists.


    Good luck,
    John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert


    To review other questions from our Ask the Clinician Column, browse the Ask the Clinician archives.


    If you need help finding a Migraine and headache specialist, visit our listing of Patient Recommended Specialists.



    About Ask the Clinician:

    Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.


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    Last updated August 20, 2009.

Published On: August 20, 2009