Headache Red Flags Can Prevent Fatal Misdiagnosis

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Headache Red Flags Can Prevent Fatal Misdiagnosis Empty Headache Red Flags Can Prevent Fatal Misdiagnosis

Post by Tee on Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:33 am

Wednesday, 5th October 2011

Inquest into migraine misdiagnosis shows need for public awareness of headache 'red flags'

The recent inquest into the death of Cork doctor, Niamh Long from a ruptured aneuryism misdiagnosed as migraine has highlighted the need for awareness of the red flags for sinister headaches, according to the Migraine Association of Ireland [MAI].

"Migraine and other life-threatening brain conditions share many common features," says Donna Ryan, MAI Information Officer, "However, there are specific warning signs that headache sufferers and health professionals should be aware of that may suggest the underlying cause is more serious and further investigation is needed."
The MAI recommends that people educate themselves about the 'red flags' for headache and consult their doctor in the following cases:

- Change in headache pattern
- Headache with a rash
- Headache with stiff neck and/or fever
- Headache with shortness of breath and/or symptoms affecting eyes, ears, nose or throat
- Headache with dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, numbness or tingling
- Headaches that begin or persist after head injury
- Long lasting 'aura' symptoms
- Onset of headache after 40
- First and/or worst headache

Previous inquests recommended that patients who present with persistent and severe headaches should receive a CT scan or lumbar puncture within the minimum time frame.

Although the MAI endorses this recommendation, the Association has sought to reassure those affected by migraine/headache disorders that in the majority of cases there is no need for concern.

"A headache is not a cause for panic"


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