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Question: I had a terrible headache for three nights. The first night, the pain was located across my forehead. On the third night, the pain was located on the left side of my forehead and my inner ear hurt all day long. I woke up with a sharp pain every 20-36 seconds in my left temple. I would compare the severity of pain to labor pains, and the pain worsened if I moved or coughed.  I took Midol (suggested by the pharmacist),  Nasacort, drank tons of water, and I applied a heating pad and ice packs. I tried to rest and move as little as possible to determine what was causing the head pain and if I needed medical attention. I did some research and found your site. I have never heard of Tic Douloureux Headaches, but it seems like a possibility, especially with my age and symptoms. I would just like to know more about Tic Douloureux Headaches or whatever you think might have caused these headaches. I feel MUCH better today, but am still having some of the headaches-GRATEFULLY NOT every 20-36 seconds!!

Answer: It is not possible to diagnose this through a message, but a few thoughts. If headaches are associated with an infection and are significant, it is important to be seen ASAP as many cases are potentially very serious, like meningitis. There isn’t a headache as Tic Douloureux. That condition is restricted to facial pain and it generally momentary, often triggered by facial touch, although volleys of pain can occur and it is rare for it to just involve the temple.

It sounds like you are improving and hopefully the whole problem will soon be resolved, but should this recur, please don’t treat at home.

Mark W. Green MD, FAAN
Director of Headache and Pain Medicine

Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai