Posted by: Katija | 2009/09/07

Headache for the last 5 days


Please can you help. I have had a headache for the last 5 days and am not sure what to do.

I am fasting (no food or drink for the entire day), I never had a problem previously when fasting so not sure if related to the fast.
The pain is around my eyes mostly and sometimes on the right sometimes on the left of my head. It is so painful I feel like throwing up and I cannot bend over, cough or sneeze as it hurts when I do any of these actions.

Medication and sleep does very little to relieve the pain. It starts every morning around 9am.

Please can you tell what this could be related to and what can I do to prevent it.

Thank you

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Katija,
Certainly any fast can trigger off headaches, but if they start in the morning then it is unlikely to be related to the fast, unless you are in the habit of drinking coffee during the morning – in that case it may be caffeine withdrawal. It may also be the kind of food you are eating at sehri – contact The Headache Clinic on 0861 678 911 for a list of foods to be avoided at sehri. Having said this, it may well be nothing to do with the fast. Medication is not the best way to go – you have to find out what is causing the problem. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”, which should include a neurological examination to rule out any serious underlying condition. There are so many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For instance, a neurologist will examine the brain and nervous system, a physiotherapist will look at the muscles, a dentist will examine the teeth etc. For this reason, the “multidisciplinary assessment” combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

This assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension, and of the external carotid vasculature to determine whether there is an arterial element to the pain.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) on 0861 678 911.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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