Brain Tumor – Symptoms Headache Vs. Normal Headaches
Is there a difference between brain tumor headaches and normal headaches? Answers to brain tumor headache questions you could never find are now right here. I asked an expert questions about brain tumor headaches that you’ve wondered about. Headaches are so common. Is there a way to tell the difference between brain tumor headaches and regular headaches?
I asked Dr. Virginia Stark-Vance of Texas, medical oncologist, specializing in the field of neuro-oncology (treatment of brain and spinal cord malignancies), about BT headaches vs. regular headaches. She is coauthor of the book, “100 Questions and Answers about Brain Tumors.”
JH: Do BT headaches necessarily feel like a “brain tumor headache”? Or can it feel normal?
DR. STARK-VANCE: A tension headache, often felt as tightening in the back of the head or neck, is a common symptom in brain tumor patients who have a tumor in the back of the head, or causing pressure on the lateral ventricles, the spinal fluid spaces in the middle of the brain. The pressure from the tumor seems to transmit to the back of the head and downwards. It is not unusual for such patients to see a chiropractor, thinking they have a neck problem.
What are unique characteristics of BT headaches that are different from regular (tension, dehydration) headaches?
There are no truly unique characteristics, although some patients will have an increase in pain with changes in barometric pressure, during a flight, or with changes in altitude. Some have a headache when bending forward or coughing. However, absence of these signs isn’t unusual either. Some brain tumor patients never have a headache.
How do BT headaches differ from migraines and cluster headaches?
Patients who have a history of migraines who develop a tumor often say their “tumor headache” is different from their “migraine” headache. They are not relieved with the same medication. Often the migraine headache is accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light. Most brain tumor headaches are not accompanied by nausea.