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"Why do I get short painful headaches every now and then?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do I get short painful headaches every now and then?


I'm 21 years old and just left university and am now working in a computer firm. My mother and brother both suffer from migraines but I do not. Every now and then I get a splitting headache in the same part of my head that lasts a few seconds at the longest (maybe around 10). They are extremely painful. Also sometimes when I press down on the section where I get the pain, it feels sensitive. Could this be a brain tumor?


There are a couple possibilities that could explain your symptoms, but in truth, these symptoms are unusual. I do not think that your symptoms can be explained by a migraine headache. Migraine pain is typically throbbing in nature and lasts a lot longer than 10 seconds. Likewise I think a brain tumor being the cause of these symptoms is unlikely. Headaches caused by brain tumors are typically dull and are worse in the morning. Your description sounds somewhat like cluster headaches. These type of headaches are one sided and have been described as an ice pick going through the head. They can be associated with tenderness over the area that hurts. However, they usually last 30 minutes, not 10 seconds. Finally, a disease called temporal arteritis can cause bad headaches. These headaches are on the temple of one side of the head, and this area is very tender to the touch. If your headaches are localized here and you are tender in that area, you should get this checked out right away because it can results in blindness. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can listen to your description of your headaches, perform a comprehensive neurological exam, and hopefully make a diagnosis. If temporal arteritis is suspected, then you will need some blood work done immediately.

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