Hello, I am writing to you concerning my mother. She is 69 years old, diabetic, multiple allergies(lots of medecines too). On March 9th, suddenly had a headache, said felt like something hit her in the top of the head. Took her to emergency room, they admitted her. Over the course of 10 days, she had a CT scan,3 MRI's,2 spinal taps,EEG and EKG,arteriolgram and blood tests. She has been seen by Neurosurgeons, neurololgists, and our family doctor. All tests came back negative. The doctors cannot seem to find anything wrong. She has had a continual headache since the 9th of March. At times the pain gets worse but is always present. She has come close to passing out from the pain. This has affected her eyesight(has trouble reading out of glasses and driving ablities).She has also had several nose bleeds(the EN&T dr. has cauterized her nose).Her blood pressure is up because of the pain.Can you suggest anything that could help in diagnosis? The doctors in Chattanooga have given up on her. We know something is seriously wrong and need someone to find it. Thank you very much. God bless and keep you.
An abrupt onset of severe headache always prompts the concern of a ruptured aneurysm in the brain, which I suspect is why so many tests were done on your mother. Another serious cause in older people that can cause visual impairment, and if not diagnosed and treated promptly, is known as temporal arteritis. It is an inflammation of some of the arteries in the scalp and eventually (if untreated) the retina of the eye. It can be diagnosed by a biopsy of the superficial temporal artery, and often but not always, this artery will be tender to the touch. It is in the temple area. Two blood tests called a sedimentation rate and a C- reactive protein are also helpful in diagnosing it, but they are not always abnormal even in people who have the problem confirmed by a biopsy. Another possibility is high blood pressure-related headache, which often occurs at the vertex or top of the head. Of course you get into a chicken-egg type of problem with this type of headache since you cannot always tell if the headache pain is driving the blood pressure up, or vice versa. Another more rare possibility not usually seen in older people is called hemicrania continus--- continuous pain in half of your head. This very rare but extremely stubborn condition responds to one and only one particular medication known as indomethacin, which wipes it out within a few days of taking it!! If your mother has not been cared for by a neurologist, she should be, especially at this point. A second opinion may not be a bad idea. Vanderbilt in Nashville is one option in Tennessee (although I realize it it at the opposite end of the state). Another closer option might be Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Please remember that information that we provide on the forum is intended for general medical informational purposes only, and that the catual diagnosis and treatment of your mother's specific condition should be strictly in conjunction with her treating physicians until/if such time she chooses to receive a second opinion. If she would be ineterested in an evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic, our number is 1-800-223-2273. We hope you find the information useful and wish you and your mother well in getting an answer to her problem soon.
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