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Nightmare causeing headaches
For the past couple weeks I've been having headaches in the morning. Everytime I have these headaches it's when I have my nightmares. There were few the first couple months, but as the nightmares get worse, so do my headaches. It makes me feel that there's the entire upper atmosphere inside my skull, and its trying to get out. I'm worried about what will happen if this keeps going on. Should I go to the doctors, or is it just due to stress?



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768044 tn?1294227036
Hi cassetteplaya,

Yes, you should go to the doctor. A doctor will be able to diagnose your headaches and tell you how to stop them if possible OR how to treat them.

Illness, disease, fever, pain and stress can all trigger nightmares. It is possible that you are stressed and both the nighmares and the headaches are a result of your stress. A doctor or therapist can teach you coping strategies for stress and can also prescribe medications to help with stress if life-style changes do not seem to help on their own. If your headaches and nightmares are caused by stress, reducing your stress level will reduce all of your stress-related symptoms.

It might also be that you have a type of primary headache such as tension headaches or migraines, and it is the pain that is triggering your nightmares. If you have tension headaches, there are exercises and life-style changes you can make that might prevent the headaches. There are also over-the-counter and prescription medications you can take to stop a tension headache.

If you have migraines, then nightmares can be a symptom, and a migraine can also wake you up from your sleep. A small amount of people can completely avoid migraines by tracking triggers and avoiding those triggers. Most people with migraines can find relief through acute treatment, using medications such as Triptans, pain killers, NSAIDs and antiemetics. The quickly absorbing tripans work the best, such as Zomig Nasal Spray or Maxalt MLTs. Naproxen is a NSAID that is less likely to cause rebound headaches than other NSAIDs. Metoclopramide is an antiemetic that can improve how well other migraine medications work if taken at the same time.

You didn't mention pain level at all, but if these headaches are terrifyingly painful, it is possible that you may have cluster headaches. Cluster headaches usually hit in the morning. Cluster headaches are one of the most painful type of headache there is, much more painful than childbirth and comparable to torture. I wouldn't be surprised if that sort of pain level could trigger a nightmare before it woke you up.

There may also be a possibility that you have a secondary headache, that is a headache that is caused by a disease or injury. Fevers and infections can cause both nightmares and headaches, if you currently have an acute illness that may be why you are getting nightmares and headaches. A doctor could give you a blood test to rule out infection. If it does turn out you have an infection and your doctor gives you proper treatment for the infection (such as antibiotics), the headaches and nightmares would likely stop after the infection cleared.

I hope this information is helpful! Let us know what the doctor tells you. I hope that the headaches and nightmares stop soon or that you are able to find a successful treatment plan to control the headaches. Keep in touch!

- marilee
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