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What could cause stabbing headache that wakes you from sleep?

  I began having a headache like this about 7 or 8 years ago.  It would "stab"
  on the right side of my head above the ear and behind my right eye...rather
  hard to say if it is the eye, the ear, or the head causing the pain.  Anyway,
  it would come on, last a few seconds and stop, then resume.  It lasted one
  night for several hours and then went away.
  I had a similar headache last night.  It began shortly before I retired for
  the evening, then came on several times as I tried to sleep, waking me often.
  I even DREAMED I was having this headache and awoke with the pain.  Today, the
  headache is gone but I have a "numb" kind of feeling in that area.  Could
  this be tied in with the other neurological symptoms I have had in the past?
  They were checking me for MS, but have decided on a different diagnosis lately...
  Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyositis (not fibromyalgia, I asked).
  Since the headache is now gone, and it would take about 3 weeks to get in to a
  neuro, is there any point in seeking medical attention for it?  should I just
  "wait and see" if I have another one at a more "convenient" time?
  I'm so confused....  :-)
Dear Leigh,
thank you for your question.
A specific type of headache came to mind when I read your posting.
It is called cluster headache. This type of HA occurs predominantly in young adult males and is characterized by a constant one sided HA around the eye/behind the eye. It tends to recur nightly, sometimes 1-2 hours after sleep, or several times during the night and day. The HA recurs with striking accuracy at around the same time each day, followed by periods of freedom for many days/weeks/even months, hence the term cluster HA>
THe pain is felt deep in and around the eye, is intense, stabbing and usually non throbbing, often radiates to temple, cheek, or forehead.
Associated symptoms include nose congestion, runny nose, flushing and puffy cheek, tearing, smaller pupil, droopy eyelid, nausea, or vomiting.
THe attack lasts on the average less than 30-45 mins.  The pain of a given attack may be gone as fast as it came or fade away slowly.
It is so characteristic, it should not be confused with migraine or tic doloreaux. Treatment is the same as migraine (ergotamine, sumatriptan, intranasal lidocaine, NSAIDs, etc.). Oxygen works well.  Lithium, methysergide, amytriptiline, and prednisone are also used.
I hope the above information helps, good luck.

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