Headache in Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

As public awareness grows, more people are concerned about headache in cerebral venous thrombosis. If there is headache involved, you have a better chance of being diagnosed, but there are some things

you need to know.

Thrombosis occurs when a clot forms in a blood vessel. This can be a vein or an artery. Different types of thrombosis occur when the clot is in different parts of the body, such as the veins in the head head (Thromboembolism). Sometimes the clot can then come loose, and is carried by the blood stream until it causes a blockage in another part of the body. This is called a thromboembolism. Headache in cerebral venous thrombosis can be very serious. Depending on where the blockage is, it can cause disease such as stroke, or even death.

If you have headache in cerebral venous thrombosis, at least you have a symptom to go on. Consider this case report from The New England Journal of Medicine. A previously healthy 20 year old women has a progressively worsening headache. Thinking it was migraine, doctors tried triptans and acetaminophen, which seemed to help a little. But then in a few days things got even worse, with symptoms such as blurred vision, nausea and a sensitivity to light. It was finally a magnetic resonance imaging along with magnetic resonance angiography that identified the problem.

How can you tell?

The good news is that cerebral venous thrombosis is very rare.  Chances are your headache is not something that is going to do you any permanent damage.  However, there are some hints that there is something more serious going on.  Most importantly, if you have a headache unlike any you've had before, or if it gets worse over a period of days, or if it's simply the worst headache you've ever had, go see your doctor.  She can keep a close eye on you and rule out more serious causes.

If your headache is getting worse, and especially if there are other symptoms such as blurry vision or seizures, your doctor can look for clues.  For example, a swelling of the head of the optic nerve (papilledema) could tip her off.  She may ask for further testing, if only to ensure that there isn't a serious cause of headache.  There are even various types of CVT, depending on which vein contains the blockage.  It's easy to mistake CVT for various neurological diseases, but new techniques are helping with diagnosis.

There are various causes of CVT, such as a head injury, an infection, and certain drugs, to name a few.  Make sure your doctor knows your medical history and any possible concerns that may be related.

Treatment

Treatment of headache in cerebral venous thrombosis of course means dealing with the cause of the problem. Treatments can include anticoagulants (bloodthinners), steroids, vitamins, and vasodilators (drugs to widen the blood vessels). The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the better.

Again, remember that headache in cerebral venous thrombosis is very rare. But if you do have a worsening headache, this and other causes can be serious, so it's best to check it out as soon as possible.

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References: MedTerms at MedicineNet.com; Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis: A Great Masquerader; The New England Journal of Medicine article on Cerebral Venous Thrombosis; Deep cerebral venous thrombosis in adults by MING Shuhong, QI Zengfei, WANG
Luning and ZHU Ke, published in the Chinese Medical Journal, 2002; Cerebral Venous Thrombosis - Spectrum of CT Findings by D Karthikeyan, S Vijay, T Kumar, L Kanth 2004 in the Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging; Cerebral Venous Thrombosis as a Cause of Acute Headache 2004 MedScape by Michael Grover, DO; Article on headache in cerebral venous thrombosis, Cerebral Vein Thrombosis Presenting as Headache by Melvin Chiu, M.D., Siamak Basiratmand, M.D., and Rumi Cader, M.D., M.P.H.