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Headache only when lying down
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Headache only when lying down

Hi,

I have been getting headaches almost exclusively when I lie down, which is making sleeping difficult. It feels like intense pressure across my forehead (just above my eyebrows) and usually behind my eyes. When I lie on my back, it tends to move to the sides of my head. It occurs less than 5 minutes after I lie down, and if I sit up it is gone almost immediately. Occasionally I get similar headaches during the day, but they are transient and very mild.

I don't have problems with migraines, sinuses, teeth, or eyes. Ibuprofen, Flexeril, Vioxx, caffeine, haven't helped. My doctor has never heard of headaches primarily when lying down -- do you have any idea what this could be?

Thank you,
Anita
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Anita:

Sorry to hear about your headaches.  We usually think of positional type of headaches occuring when the patient sits up or stands up.  I really haven't had a patient with headaches with lying down unless they had an abnormal MRI showing some sort of blockage or heart problems.  I might suggest that you might sleep with a couple of pillows and see if this helps.  Otherwise, without any systemic illness I am at a loss to give you a possibility.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
9 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Anita,
In what position are laying when the headache begins?
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry, but isn't this a classic brain tumor/mass symptom? I'd read that before...
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your responses.

1. I get the headache no matter what position I'm lying in. Either lying flat or lying on 2 pillows hasn't helped.

2. Can you tell me more about the symptoms of a classic brain tumor? I've searched the web for mention of this type of headache but didn't find anything, so any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Anita
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, i've heard that classic brain tumor symptoms are first thing in the morning, probably due to the fact you've been lying down taking pressure of the tumor?  Then when you wake up the brain presses on tumor.  Just something I've read once.  Anita do the headaches make you nauseated? or sick feeling?  I guess brain tumor pain is bad.  Dont be to scared about a tumor, but get an MRI to relieve yourself
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Avatar_n_tn
Morning headaches are classically associated with tumours.  None has found a convincing reason why.  However the classic pattern is not that often seen.  Usually positional headaches are related to the circulation of fluid within the brain (CSF).  An MRI would be a sensible but expensive start, but you need to see a neurologist/surgeon to get it unterpreted and should really see one first to make sure the correct type is ordered.  If it is normal, a neurosurgeon could be persuaded to do a minor procedure to measure the pressure in your head.

I would only do these things if it is persistant problem over a few weeks.

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Avatar_n_tn
Has anybody suggested psuedotumer cerebri? I have this and high intercranial pressure will cause these. When I lie down they get worse. Low pressure is the opposite. I have recently had a lumboperitoneal shunt installed. I have a programmable valve which helps to relieve the pressure.
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A related discussion, headache while lying down was started.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had also terrible headaches only when I lay down. If I'm on my back its all behind my head, when I turn to the sides it "repositions" to the front and sides of my head. Sometime its also in my face. I've tried the pillows to prop me up, but then just feel it everywhere. I cannot sleep. I need help
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