Brain Tumor and Headache: The Difference


How do I know if I have a brain tumor or a regular headache. When headache symptoms start to get worse and refuse to go away, one may wonder if the headache is actually a brain tumor. Let us know how to differentiate between a regular headache and brain tumor. Let us also find out how your doctor diagnoses your headache and find out if it is a brain tumor or a regular headache.

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Headaches can be a  brain tumor symptom, and those who are actually related to the tumor have different characteristics that detach them from other conditions that lead to headaches. To begin with, it is important to know that brain tumors are not common. While studies show that more people are being diagnosed with brain tumor, this still is a rarity. Chronic headaches are mostly linked with other less grave conditions:common vision issues that can be perfected by glasses or contact lens,  migraines and allergies.

Here are the headache characteristics for people with brain tumors
Surprisingly, headaches are not typically the first symptom a person may suffer from he has a brain tumor. Other symptoms like seizures, changes in vision or hearing, weakness of the arms and legs, or cognitive injury are usually the first signs of brain tumor.

It is generally perceived that a standard characteristic of a headache-related brain tumor is a morning headache but investigations show that this is not quite the norm. This might happen, but it is not as ordinary as previously thought. Headaches, however, are common in people with brain tumors, and 50 percent of people having brain tumors do suffer from headaches.

Most people do not undergo the trauma of serious and incapacitating headaches, but they can be painful enough to wake a person from sleep. But this fact alone does not suggest that a person has brain tumor. Your physician will be the best person to diagnose this. However, one thing to note is that the headache in brain tumor tends to become more frequent, increasing in severity and, is not cured easily.

 You may also experience throbbing pain when you change your body position. For instance, if you are lying down, coughing or sneezing, the pain can be more. As mentioned, you cannot take headache in isolation or certain symptoms of headache in isolation and think that it is a brain tumor. . Brain tumors are very complex, and each individual may experience different types of headaches that may or may not reflect these common features.

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Reason for headache in people with brain tumor.
Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is a common offender of headaches in cases of people suffering from brain tumors. IICP is additional stress or pressure on the brain caused by excess fluid build-up or swelling in the brain. There is only so much space in the skull to occupy brain and additional amount of liquid or tissue formation can increase the pressure in the brain.

How Your  Doctor Diagnoses a Headache as a Brain Tumor
When you see your doctor due to continuous headaches, you are asked quite a few questions related to headaches. It is helpful to keep a symptom diary to that will let your doctor know about the headaches and the triggers that cause them. Here are some questions that the doctor can ask:

1. Have you suffered from headaches in the past or do you regularly have headaches?
People with previous episodes of  headaches or suffer from allergies or migraine usually do not present a brain tumor risk. They are those who do not usually get headaches and have had recent and new headaches that make doctors suspect something more serious. People who have earlier suffered from headaches and headaches that have increased in intensity, area, or lead to other symptoms are also a concern for doctors. A change in the pattern of headache can be a brain tumor symptom.

2. What medications are you using to treat your headache or migraine?
Be very careful and honest when your doctor asks what you are taking to treat your headache or migraine. Let him know about any prescription medication (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen), herbs or prescription medications you are taking. Even if you were taking prescription medication to treat another problem in the body, you should let the doctor know. It is important to know that headaches associated with brain tumors are not relieved with medication. When both OTC and prescription medications to relieve pain are not good enough to treat your headache, it make the doctor realize that something more serious may be present. Also you should never take a medicine that is not recommended to you; this can complicate matters.

3. Are you experiencing any nausea or vomiting?
Nausea feeling and vomiting, combined with a headache may be a brain tumor symptom. Nausea and vomiting without headache, often with the change in motion can also be a symptom, but this is much more likely in connection with something different from brain tumor.

4. Do your headaches get worse with movement?
If your headaches are worse or caused by bending, sneezing or coughing, it is important to inform the doctor about the same. Headaches linked with brain tumor are often compounded by these movements.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi I have recently seen my PCP and I have told him about my cronic headaches and he thinks i am having migraines.He gave me a prescription of generic Topomax 25mg x 2. He ordered a cat scan b/c i am a chicken for MRI.I dont like closed places.Anyway.My insurance co denied the cat scan so i am suppose to get MRI…I have a steel rod in my back for scoliosis! My doctor said I need to go to my back doctor….Why do i have to go to my back doctor when the pain in in my HEAD?/? How am i going to get this diagnosed if i cant get an MRI?? thanks so much!

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