Your fear of a brain tumor is not imaginary if you’ve been having a 24/7 headache for the past several months.
“The most common symptoms of brain tumors are headaches,” says neurosurgeon Charles Park, MD, Director of The Minimally Invasive Brain and Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
Can a headache that goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for several months ongoing, be caused by a brain tumor?
“It is very possible that the headache can be 24/7 and last several months,” says Dr. Park.
Can you dismiss the possibility of a brain tumor if this 24/7 headache is not accompanied by other symptoms suggestive of cancer?
No. You may have heard or read something like, “If it was a brain tumor, you’d have other symptoms.”
However, that needs qualification. If the situation is not treated, you WILL eventually begin developing other symptoms.
But what about, say, three months out from the onset of the new headaches?
Dr. Park says, “At times, there can be new-onset symptoms, such as seizures, weakness and balance problems, depending on the location of the tumors.”
So during that several months, you may NOT have these signs and just have the headaches.
There are benign causes of a 24/7 headache that goes on for weeks and weeks.
One such cause is a pinched or compressed nerve that branches out of the cervical (neck) vertebrae.
A tip-off that the constant daily headache might be from a brain tumor is when the headache is the worst.
“The classic features of brain tumor related headaches are the morning headaches,” says Dr. Park.
“When we lay down to sleep, the brain tissue, including the tumors, will expand slightly and increase symptoms, such as headaches.”
Usually, if you’ve had a constant headache every day for many weeks, that is caused by a brain tumor, there will be other symptoms with it.
Additional Symptoms of a Brain Tumor
(no particular order)
• Appetite loss
• Unexplained weight loss
• Visual disturbances
• One drooping eyelid
• One eye bulging a little more than the other
• One eye a bit off center
• Hearing loss
• Cognitive changes
• Behavioral changes
• Numbness in part of the face
• Unexplained fatigue
• Speech difficulty
Symptoms may develop gradually. But a headache is often the first symptoms and the only symptom for several weeks – even several months.
The headache may come and go. It may be present only in the morning. If it’s 24/7, the brain tumor headache will very likely be at its worst on most mornings.
Dr. Park specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques for treatment of conditions affecting the brain and spine. He’s skilled in advanced procedures and techniques that utilize innovative computer technology and image-guided surgery systems.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.