Headaches again

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kjs, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    difficult child has always suffered from severe headaches. We have Advil and Excedrin in school always. Dr. said he can take Excedrin two hours after Advil, and can actually take 4 advil at a time.

    When I reviewed the medication. log at school last spring, he is in there taking medicine about 4 days a week.

    He won't take anything if it is just a normal headache, only when it gets severe.

    For the past 3 weeks he has had horrible headaches. Every day taking Advil/Excedrin with no relief. Even took Midrin with no relief.

    I took him to the mall (he likes to shop). I let him and a friend head down to American Eagle and met up with them. He was sitting on the ground with his cheeks all red. Wanted to leave.

    Took him to the pediatrician. His dr. of 13 years retired and there is a new one who does not know him. difficult child asked Dr. for Tylenol #3. Other dr. would occasionally prescribe it when he was completely down. This dr. was reluctant to do so, gave him a lecture, but did write the script.

    difficult child took one, two days in a row. Now back to Advil/Excedrin.

    Do you think this could be from him worrying about the new school? He has such high levels of anxiety. Any advice? he puts ice on his head and neck. Often complains of sore neck and shoulder muscles once the headache subsides. But it always comes back. I don't know what else to do. I tried to get him to work out at the health club. Walk..anything. But he says he can't cause his head hurts.

    Any suggestions?

    Also...he has always been worried about his weight. Three weeks ago I took him in due to ear problems and he flipped out when the scale said 117. This is three weeks later and he weighed in at 128. I got on the scale and told him it was not correct, I do not weigh that much and I weigh myself often. (it was correct) He now won't eat. Says he is fat.
    He is much shorter than his friends/classmates, but also a year younger.
    I believe he is the only one who's voice has not changed yet either.

    He is currently not on any medications. He stopped concerta last year because he said it puts him in a bad mood. (I think it was a bad day and he blamed the medications.) Now he asked for Aderral (sp?) because it will help him lose weight. I won't do that.

    I do not think he is fat. My co-worker says he is, but he never even saw him. I just mentioned his pants size. 30 x 30. (but they hang off his butt and are long)
  2. ML

    ML Guest

    Does he have any allergies?

    He doesn't sound fat at all. If anything he was too skinny before and perhaps now he's more on the "normal" side and he's not used to it. My son *is* "fat" but for some reason this doesn't bother him despite being someone who doesn't want to stand out as different in any way.

    I wish I knew the answer on the headaches. That is a lot of medication and I know it's not good for the liver to take too much of that stuff. Of course with any kind of medications it's always the question of benefit vs. side effects.

    I'm sorry he's having to deal with these. I'm sure they are anxiety driven but what do do about it, I don't know. Hopefully others will have good suggestions.

  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    My daughter has constant headaches and it turned out to be Lyme Disease. Someone here suggested it and it turned out to be right, even though none of the doctors considered it. It is not a quick fix. Treatment for it has helped her anxiety and raging, though.

    I have been told not to let her take pain medicine for it more than a couple of times per week to avoid rebound headaches. The ones with caffeine are especially likely to cause them.

    She took Elavil for about 2 years to prevent them. It worked for a while and also worked on her anxiety so that's something else to consider.
  4. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Are they migraines?

    Imatrex (sp?) might help. I know it helps me with my migraines.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry he has so many headaches. Advil 4 days a week will cause rebound headaches. His body gets used to having the advil, so it causes the headaches to get him to take more advil. MANY docs do not know this. Same with Excedrin.

    I am NOT saying the headaches are not real, or are only due to the advil.

    Your son needs a full workup for migraines and tension headaches. He probably needs a "triptan" medication like imitrex (sumatriptan) for at least a trial. He CERTAINLY needs a preventative. Inderal (propranolol) is the gold standard preventative. It is a beta blocker, will slow his pulse and blood pressure, but is a fairly safe drug in comparison with many many other medications. It is also dirt cheap now. It used to be very expensive. Be sure to ask the doctor for the LA (long acting) version. Otherwise he will have to take it several times a day for optimal benefit. Any other beta blocker will also work (atenolol is one). They can move him to calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and then medications like topomax and depakote. I don't recommend ANYONE moving to topomax or depakote unless the headaches are very severe.

    He should also see a physical therapist to learn stretching exercises to prevent and help treat the headaches. This is esp helpful if he has tension headaches mixed with migraines.

    He truly is miserable if he is having this many headaches. I know, I live with daily migraines. They are REALLY horrible if I am off the preventative. I do my best not to let that happen, but some medical tests have made it necessary. Chances are you will see a different, happier kid if the headaches can be treated.

    It may take a while to get into a neurologist. Esp a child neuro. Start a chart with when the headaches occur, what he is doing when they start, and what helps. This will be a HUGE help when you see the neuro for hte workup.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Get a referral to a pediatrician neurologist and start looking at the possibilility of migranes.

    I took my difficult child last winter to determine what his headaches were. He was getting a few bad ones. We also wanted to rule out epilepsy.

    Neurologist determined a migrane variant and while we are still on the look out for possible epilepsy, we are treating as migrane.

    Our preventive is plenty of fluids - water and gaterade - is allowed to have on his desk and with him at all times during school. difficult child dehydrates faster than most and doesn't know he is dehydrated until the headache starts.

    difficult child also get 50 mg of B2 vitamin twice a day (100 tabs split into two). There is something about B2 to help prevent migranes.

    Tell your difficult child that he can not wait until the headache is bad before taking medication. He needs to take it before it gets unbearable. That is why the medications do not seem to work (plus what Susiestar said about the amounts received each week). He needs to try to get control before they get that big. Think of the headache like a fire - if put out immeadiately, no problem, if not, it can take several days to get under control plus more to put out entirely. That is how headaches behave - they get bigger and bigger.

    Since the headaches are disabling, I would get them checked out by a neurologist just to make sure that they are only migranes and get a neurologist's input on treatment. The abouve has worked wonders for my difficult child but yours may need different.

    I have been a headache sufferer since very young. I know the pain your difficult child is in. I hope you are able to find an answer.

    A cool dark room - cold wash cloths on eyes.

    The shoulder and neck are sore because headaches often have you tensing those areas.

    Oh, I do hope you find an answer for your difficult child - major headaches are also scary.
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    My son has had severe migraines with vomiting since the age of 4. We began seeing a pediatric neuro when he was 9 (we didn't realize what was going on when he was younger). Our neuro completely agrees that any medication like Tylenol, Motrin or Exedrin can cause "rebound" headaches, which means that while they help the pain, these medications also fuel future headaches. Our neuro also believes that if a child is getting more than 2 headahces a week, he needs to be on a medication that prevents migraines.

    My son has been on Propranolol since age 10. It's a blood pressure medication that is used off label as a migraine preventive. We call it his "miracle medication" because he barely ever gets a headache, let alone a migraine, now. This was a kid who was asking for Motrin 5 to 6 times a week.

    by the way, anxiety can trigger migraines. My son's other triggers include fatigue (having a regular bedtime is a must), bright sunlight, hot humid weather, too much screen time, not drinking enough fluids and artificial sweetners like aspartame.

    Hope you make an appointment with a pediatrician neuro soon.
  8. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    difficult child did see a pediatric neurologist for a few years. He has had MRI's and MRA's - all fine. Last year after passing out the neuro did a 48 hour EEG. All is fine.

    difficult child was put on Topomax for about a year. That proved to have no relief so it was discontinued. Upon discontinuing that, the neuro said there is no need to return.

    I also suffer from headaches. I have one every single day. Some days only if I shake my head do I feel it, others it is just nagging all day and still the days I cannot open my eyes. I am very well aware of rebound headaches, I have had the same tests and more as difficult child. I have felt the soreness after a migrane, but not the soreness he has been complaining about.

    After several weeks of headaches I took him in because his "face hurt". That was almost two weeks ago. Sinus infection, put him on antibiotics. Dr. said two days headache should go away. It did not. For the past 5 days he has not felt good at all. Upset stomach, muscles hurting, terrible headache. sometimes he feels hungry and eats only to feel very sick after. The antibiotic he has had many times. We make sure he eats a few crackers, lots of water or milk when taking medication even if he feels sick.

    I am getting more and more worried. The past five days he has been so sick. the past three days not even getting up. Missed a baseball game last night. His muscles are sore. Been using ice / heating pad. those heat patches too.

    His neck, back of head, side of head including pain in the area of his ear. His shoulders and arms are also sore. Basically body aches on and off. Pain in stomach comes and goes. Sometimes feeling sick, other times pain. He constantly asks me if he is alright.

    I told him he may have a touch of the flu with body aches like that. but I have no idea. Yesterday he took his tylenol #3 twice and was waiting the 6 hours to take again when I left for work. I suggested he try benadryl. Could it possibly be an allergy? Recently with ear problems the ENT said his tubes were swollen shut due to allergies. We are not aware of any.

    I have a friend tell me we go to the doctor way to often. Her son never goes. But her son doesn't suffer from headaches like this. I don't know if I am over reacting or not. He has been very tired. More just wiped out. But I know that can come from the constant headache and body aches. Also from Advil, tylenol, Excedrin ...tylenol #3. I just do not know what to do.

    We registered for High School Tuesday. They messed up his schedule and I needed to wait to speak to the conselor. (messed up quite a few). difficult child was feeling so bad i had to bring him home.

    His pediatrician of 13 years retired and I feel uncomfortable with his replacement. Not that I think he is not a good doctor, only because he does not KNOW difficult child. Heck the other doctor knew my voice when i called.

    What to do now? Wait it out? Call? Suggest blood tests?

    husband has had some medical issues and the bills are just piling up. I hate to go through more tests that are not necessary.

    Could puberty do this? He will be 14 in December and I see no signs of puberty. Voice not changed, no growth. (except weight. 11 pounds in three weeks) He won't discuss that with me OR the doctor. And there is no way I can get him to take his pants off for any type of exam.

    I am at a loss.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Kjs. I think the docs are missing something.
    I also agree that he could be getting rebound headaches.
    The "face" headache is a good clue that it was sinus that time.
    The "neck" headaches are a good clue that it's muscular... that time.
    The mall is a clue that it could be fluorescent lights and it could have been a migraine ... that time.
    Yes, he could also be getting stress headaches and he could suffer from anxiety.

    There's so much going on, just from reading your note, that it sounds like you're treating the symptoms and not the cause. A good doctor can help.

    I wish you luck! I would be very concerned, too!
  10. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Has your difficult child ever been on medications for anxiety? Does he see a therapist?

    Last Summer/Fall, my difficult child with no history of anything started loosing all his energy and along with a long line of physical symptoms, did start getting headaches. He had chest pains, felt he could not breathe, and other aches and pains. He lost his energy to move. Couldn't go anywhere.

    I took him to his pediatrician who said, "I don't know what this is so I am going to treat the symptom. I think this is anxiety. Here is Zoloft." I choose to get a 2nd opinion rather than give my child Zoloft based on "I don't know, I think."

    The 2nd doctor said, "I am sure it is anxiety, however, we will do all the tests to rule out anything else." So we had more tests done. I don't remember everything but do know that thyroids was one thing.

    Because there was no history of a diagnosis, the 2nd doctor stated he thought we could deal with this without medications (I was SOOOO happy). It took us 3 months to get into a therapist. In the meantime, difficult child completely fell apart. He was not moving - hardly making it to school (I had to stay with him) - couldn't even get to the store to get a Lego set. Shut down with his various body pains which did get better after each test showed him he was fine.

    He completly fell apart last October and ended up in psychiatric hospital based on self harm thoughts and him begging for more help. We got him going on medications and he has made a complete come back with therapy and medications.

    Until February, he did get lots of headaches but does not get many now. His head does feel weird often but I still want to give him a chance to get control of his anxiety with coping skills before increasing his medications.

    The doctor called his aches and pains "Somatic" (I think that is how it is spelt) pains. The anxiety does cause lots of preceived physical problems that are not "true". Of course the pain is true, the anxiety is a bully trying to convience you that something is physically wrong.

    I am grateful for a doctor that did not write this off as anxiety (even though it was) and was willing to look further to rule things out because there really can be something more going on.

    I would continue doings tests to figure this out, but also wanted to let you know that the anxiety can be running rampant and causing this. Anxiety does not need a known reason to act up. That is another reason it is difficult to handle - there doesn't have to be a known reason, you can get anxious even during your most favorite enjoyable activity.

    I hope you figure this out soon. Just another thing to look at - but do continue looking at all the reasons for the physical.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  11. Josie

    Josie Active Member


    From an out of mainstream Lyme Disease point of view, those symptoms could be Lyme Disease. Doctors/patients who treat Lyme Disease aggressively believe that giving antibiotics causes a die off of Lyme bacteria, making the person feel worse, and causing their Lyme symptoms to increase. Lyme symptoms include body aches, stomach aches, headaches.

    Some people on the Lyme board I read went downhill after taking antibiotics and eventually ended up with a Lyme diagnosis.

    A regular doctor will most likely dismiss Lyme as a diagnosis unless you are in certain parts of the country. Or they will run a test, but none of the tests are very accurate. The one that is the best is run by a specialty lab and is not the one they will do unless you ask for it.

    A mainstream doctor will ridicule the idea of antibiotics causing symptoms from Lyme. There is a huge political controversy about Lyme treatment, with doctors who treat it risking their practice. Patients travel to other states to get treatment. So most doctors have no experience with it. One side believes it is very easy to detect, easily treated, and anything left after a short treatment of antibiotics is too bad. The other side uses long term methods and treats until symptoms are gone. The first side doesn't listen to the other side. The second side relies on clinical experience and doesn't have a lot of published studies and is accused of offering false hope.

    You could suggest a Lyme Western blot test from the regular lab to see if it is positive. If it isn't, you might want to consider the specialty lab but it is expensive. Treatment is expensive.

    A list of symptoms for Lyme is at www.canlyme.com. Again, this is probably not a mainstream site. I wanted you to know about the 2 sides to the Lyme problem so you could do your own research and not rely only on the doctor. For us, we weren't getting help from the regular doctors and the alternative Lyme sites rang true.

    My daughter's complaints were viewed as psychsomatic until we found the Lyme doctor. Maybe I just have false hope because her headaches haven't cleared up, but her anxiety has and she is not taking anything for it. Anxiety, mood disorders, etc. can be Lyme symptoms. Just because a person is anxious doesn't mean there isn't something else wrong with them.


    Your son's story could also be a Lyme story. My daughter started getting explosive, anxious, OCDish, all at once 4 summers ago, shortly after a tick bite. Then that fall, she had many physical complaints. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with her so they called it anxiety. I didn't know enough at the time to consider Lyme Disease. Eventually, her headaches were unable to be controlled and we ended up with the Lyme Disease diagnosis 3 years later.

    While I think anxiety can cause physical problems, I think doctors are too quick about labeling symptoms anxiety when it might just be something uncommon. My daughter's stomach pain was thought to be anxiety until we discovered it went away if she gave up wheat and milk.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008