Skip to content

Can Headaches Cause Seizures?

Last updated on November 28th, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Featured Image Credits

Headaches are a massive problem, the cause of which sometimes becomes undetectable by the patients. A bad headache can ruin a perfect day.

There are multiple reasons for headaches, such as overstress, underlying medical conditions, wrong eye prescription, wearing tight headbands or headphones, loud noise, and even lack of sleep. But severe headaches can occur due to many reasons.

Headaches worsen over time if it turns into something more severe like seizures. We know about epileptic seizures that are caused by uncontrolled electrical signals in the brain, which affect our movement, behavior, and loss of consciousness.

Seizures caused by headaches are a rare condition. But vice versa can also occur where seizures may cause severe headaches like epileptic seizures.

Headaches and seizures in adults

The general population consists of both children and adults. Headaches and seizures are more common in adults than children.

The reason maybe due to the fact that adults undergo more stress. People having tension headache tendency often feel more tension and stress before headaches.

The symptoms differ from migraine headache and include nausea, vomiting, the sensation of a visual aura, or sensitivity to sound and lights. Head pain can occur in several degrees like extreme pain, mild to moderate, throbbing, pressured sensation, or burning.

Depending on the location of the pain, headaches can be felt in different ways. On the other hand, seizure in adults is not rare thing too.

Several reasons like low blood sugar levels, neurological conditions, brain infection can cause seizures. Seizures may start in childhood while adult-onset seizures start in adulthood.

Most common seizure types are- focal seizures and generalized seizures. Focal seizures are of three types, i.e., focal aware seizure, focal impaired awareness seizure, and focal to bilateral awareness seizure.

Generalized seizures are of several types among which the following are the most common in adults- GTC (generalized tonic-clonic seizures), clonic seizures, atonic seizures, tonic seizures, absence seizures, and myoclonic seizures.

Can a headache lead to a seizure?

There are incidents where it has been observed that seizures may cause headaches. Like in case of epileptic seizures, patients often feel headache before or during a seizure episode.

However, head injury can damage parts of brain resulting in extreme pain which can later lead to seizures. But other than that there has no evidence of a normal headache transforming into a seizure attack.

Speaking of migraine headaches and seizures, scientists say that these two conditions are comorbid. That means that these two conditions may occur in the same person.

Research has shown that epilepsy may cause migraine attacks in a person which in turn trigger seizure disorders. Epilepsy is often a genetic condition that passed from generation to generation.

The possibilities between two of those disorders occurring at the same time include the following. Migraine attacks may trigger a seizure, this can cause by bright lights and is termed a migraine aura-triggered seizure.

Seizures may cause abnormal electrical activity in the brain that may lead to migraine. Chronic seizures have a tendency to trigger migraine attacks.

Ictal epileptic headache

Ictal epileptic headaches are a rare condition observed in adults. This is a epileptic symptom that results to localize ictal EEG discharges.

There are two other headaches besides ictal headache, namely- pre-ictal headaches and post-ictal headaches. These headaches can feel like throbbing, sharp or steady type.

Ictal epileptic headache causes a painful type of seizure that may be manifested by other conditions such as convulsions. It is not so easy to diagnose ictal epileptic headache as the pain may be located at different parts of the brain.

The characteristic of pain may be different too, like migraine symptoms, with or without visual disturbances. Sometimes the pain be similar to tension-type headaches, or sometimes it may be undefinable.

The best option is the perform an EEG test while an headache to check epilepsy compatible discharges.

Epilepsy headache everyday

Image Credits

Unless an individual has a chronic case of epilepsy, this type of headache does not occur everyday. Daily headaches can occur due to the four following reasons- chronic migraine, chronic tension-type headache, daily persistent headache, and hemicrania continua.

Most common headache type that is associated with epilepsy is post-ictal epilepsy that occurs after episodic disorders. Estimated 45% of subjects suffer from post-ictal headaches.

Epileptic seizure due to daily headache is much less common than migraine induced headache seizures. If epilepsy headaches are bothering you everyday, it is best to consult a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

How long do headaches last after epilepsy?

Headaches after epileptic seizures or post-ictal headaches may last for a while. The pain is widespread as described by the study participants.

The pain can start from any part of the brain, but occipital lobe epilepsy is a rare condition that can affect both left and right cortex simultaneously. Headaches after epilepsy may last from anywhere between 6 to 24 hours depending on the severity.

Postictal headache can sometimes cross 24 hours mark. This can result into disabling side of the body, or the whole body.

Risk factors of post-ictal headaches are more in adults who have a history in their family members.

Seizures misdiagnosed as migraine

Seizures can happen due to multiple reasons and often this leads to misdiagnosed as migraine. Sometimes seizures can happen only once.

Some of the reasons for seizure are primary headache disorder, brain tumor, drug abuse, high fever, heart and/or head injury, poisoning, electric shock, stroke, toxemia of pregnancy, withdrawal from alcohol or medicines, etc.

Sometimes there are no reason behind a seizure which is known as idiopathic seizures. Occipital seizures are mostly misdiagnosed as migraine.

Occipital seizure, which is very different from migraine, occurs due to electrical disturbances in one side of the brain causing complex partial seizures. There are a few criteria to differentiate between occipital seizures and migraine.

Migraine might also lead to cortical spreading depression, a neuronal inactivation associated with brain.

Can migraines be mini seizures?

Migraines have the potential to trigger mini seizures. However, this is a rare condition.

This condition induces when migraine combines with visual aura. That is why, it is also called a migraine aura-triggered seizure.

Sometimes these mini seizures are a result of environmental factors. The combination of aura with migraine can be severe too.

Both the cases are involved with abnormal brain activity. That is why the severity can lead to epilepsy too.

Headache before seizure

If you have epilepsy and headache occurs, there might be a good chance that you are going to have a seizure attack. This is called pre-ictal headache.

Headaches before seizure is fairly common in case of tonic-clonic seizures. An EEG test is highly recommended to track the symptoms.

Findings from the EEG report may show that headaches are the only symptoms of a seizure. A headache may start not more than to 24 hours prior to seizure and may last until the seizure starts.

Cluster headaches and seizures

Cluster headache occurs in cluster period or in a cynical manner. This is one of the most painful types of headache.

Due to the nature of this headache, the patient may feel intense pain in one eye or around a side of the brain. Cluster headaches may last from weeks to months.

However, after a prolong episode of cluster headaches, remission period starts. In remission period, headache stops completely for a few months.

Cluster headache may be a symptom of seizure induced by stroke, brain tumor, encephalitis, or meningitis.

Seizure headache treatment

There are two approaches to treat seizure headache- temporary and permanent. No matter which approach you take, we always recommend you to go to a medical professional for suggestions.

In the temporary approach, you can take medication only when the headache starts. There are plenty of medicines popular for treatment of headache.

Some of the over the counter medications are- aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc. You can also take some prescription drugs like- naproxen and Fiorinal.

Triptan group of medicines are very active for treatment of migraine. Obviously you will need a doctor’s prescription for the that.

To treat seizure headaches permanently, consult a doctor for medication. Migraine is a prophylactic disease which will require you to consume medicines everyday to prevent headaches.

Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are effective for permanent treatment. Valproic acid is effective for both headaches and seizures.

Can seizures cause horrible headaches?

Depending on the situation, seizure headaches might be mild to utterly unbearable. Especially seizures that are associated with epilepsy or migraine are prone to be severe.

The pattern of seizure induced headache pain is throbbing, pounding, or stabbing like. If headaches start to occur on a daily basis, condition of the patient gradually declines if proper treatment is not provided.

Here are some key takeaway points regarding headaches, seizures, epilepsy, and migraine-

Consult a doctor if headaches last longer.

  • Don’t do stressful work which might trigger seizures.
  • If you have a family history of epilepsy, seizures, and have frequent headaches, consult a doctor. Do EEG test as soon as possible.
  • If you suffer from migraines, don’t go out in the sun without proper eye and head protection.
  • Take medications properly.

FAQ relating to can headaches cause seizures

Image Credits

Can a headache be a seizure?

Not necessarily a headache has to turn into a seizure. But if the headache is caused by epilepsy, migraine, trauma, or head injury- there is a high chance of getting a seizure attack.

If you have epilepsy, headache acts as one of the neurological symptoms that occurs prior to a seizure attack.

What does a migraine seizure look like?

Migraine induced seizure does not have similar symptoms such as epileptic seizures. In migraine induced seizures, patients feel a visual aura that triggers seizures or migralepsy.

Patients develop involuntary movements of muscles and diminished awareness. One side of the face or body gets weakened.

Why do migraines cause seizures?

We cannot put seizure as a result of migraines. Researchers have not found any proof that migraine is connected to seizures.

Two conditions are comorbid. It has been observed that people who have epilepsy are prone to migraines and likely to develop seizures.

What do epilepsy headaches feel like?

Epileptic headaches are not as severe as migraine headaches. But the intensity of pain might sometimes lead to the levels of migraine headaches.

Epileptic headaches have the same feeling of throbbing, pounding, or squeezing effect as migraine headaches. However, the intensity of pain differs greatly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *