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28 Mar 2007

Headaches from the age of 10
Hi there

I'm a 32-year old male who suffers from recurring headaches and infrequent (thankfully) migraines. I have certain allergies, for example, I react badly to 'fermented' cheeses (probably because of my allergy to penicillin and cephalosporins) and am allergic to codeine and shellfish. I have suffered with headaches ever since I can remember. In fact, my first memories of them are of heading off to the sick bay in Standard 3 to ask for headache tablets. My mother has always suffered with headaches and very bad migraines, as has one of my brothers.

My problem is that doctors cannot diagnose the problem. I've had the eye tests, allergy tests, etc. All I have been given is a repeat script for Zefo 8 tablets which work like a charm, especially with migraines. However, I don't want to take this medication. The problem can never be diagnosed and I have Inza, Adco-dol and Zefo rolling out my cupboards. I also sometimes have a stiff neck, so assume that the headache is tension-related. I also sometimes have a sinus problem. My third complaint is that I sometimes have a pain in my jaw and neck and almost want to massage my jaw to take the headache away. This is probably not making any sense.

I don't want to have to rely on medication. I need to get to the source of my headaches because I am so afraid of taking excess medication due to eventual liver failure. I usually take something at least once a week. I can have 3 weeks that go by without a headache, and then suddently have them again every day for a week! I have been to 3 doctors and none of them can assist OR point me in the right direction.

Please help.
Answer 502 views
Headache expert
headache expert

01 Jan 0001

Dear Brad,

Your type of problem is much more common than you may think. The problem is that there are so many factors that can affect the headache or trigger it, that it can be very difficult to diagnose what the important underlying problem is.

To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”. 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 assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

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 examination, 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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