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Forum Name: Headaches

Question: migraine symptoms worsening due to stress?


 kristen5938 - Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:11 pm

I have a history of migraine headaches for seven years (diagnosed by a neurologist after an MRI), with symptoms including severe pain on one side of the head lasting 2 to 4 days, dizziness, light sensitivity, eye pain (on affected side), nausea, vomiting, flashing lights, neck pain, and blurred vision. My headaches generally come on with changes in the weather and my period. Recently my symptoms seem to be worsening (since about March), with pain lasting more than 5 days, excruciating eye pain, intolerance to light, pain switching sides (from one eye to the other and back)... I've also been experiencing low grade fevers, sweating, loss of apetite, mouth sensitivity (difficult to eat), sore throat, congestion, and ringing in my ears. Now recently I awoke one night to find my tongue completely numb, and last night I had an episode of double vision (during an extrememly painful headache peak), the next night I felt my arm go numb from the shoulder down to my fingers, lasting about 5 minutes before sensation returned. My headaches have become so debilating I am unable to keep up at work... typically during an episode lasting a week or more of these symptoms, my headaches start in early to mid-afternoon and last until late into the night. I had a complete blood workup (CBC, chem panel, thyroid, liver, and hormones plus EKG) by my doctor about a month ago - which were normal, after the fevers and sweating started but prior to the numbness and double vision. My doctor has suggested stress may be exacerberating my symptoms. I have moderate stress at work (worsened by my inability to keep up because of my headaches). Should I worry about the numbness and double vision? My migraine meds barely work and sometimes not at all. Is it stress, or should I ask to be tested for other things? Thank you.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:55 pm

User avatar Hello -

While stress can certainly exacerbate migraine, you are now having some symptoms unusual for migraine and one or two that just don't fit with it at all. For instance, migraine almost never causes fever. Second, migraine is almost always confined to one side of the head (and the corresponding eye -- it doesn't usually switch sides as you describe). Also, while there can be numbness of the tongue with migraine, it is pretty unusual. Given all the symptoms you're having, I'd strongly suspect there is something additional going on aside from the usual migraine problem. You may have an abcess somewhere, perhaps in a sinus cavity or some other sort of infection that would produce neurological symptoms or aggravate existing ones (such as Lyme disease, for an example).

It's difficult to guess at this sort of thing without adequate clinical findings to look at, which is why you should follow up with your doctor -- or seek a second opinion. I don't think stress, alone, is responsible for all that is presently going on, and you probably should rule out an infection.

I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck, and please keep us updated.

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