Chronic Headaches and fainting


I'm wondering whether anyone can offer any advice on chronic headaches and fainting. What can I do about them and are they linked?

A bit of background...

I had viral meningitis 6 weeks ago which they first thought was a migraine. I was then told to expect headaches while recovering. A neurologist has diagnosed headaches with migrainous features and I am waiting to go to a headache clinic. The headaches feel like a band around my brain all of the time. Sometimes it feels as if someone has tugged extra hard on the band. The pain is all around my head, non throbbing and is associated with a dislike of light/noise, visual disturbances and nausea (sometime I have actually been sick). On top of this, I have been fainting regularly (every few days up to a few times a day). I often get no warning and sometimes vomit. I then have little awareness of what has happened and will often move myself without knowing. my balance, coordination and spatial awareness have been mildly affected by the vm too.

Regular tests have shown very little except a low ferritin level, blood in urine and occasionally a drop in blood pressure. I have also had a ct scan.

At the moment I am taking amitriptilylin (although I had to reduce the dose due to my blood pressure) and paracetamol. I can't take ibruprofen due to asthma. I am also waiting to try osteopathy.

7 Replies

  • I was going to suggest low blood pressure for the fainting. Is it influenced by your position? Does it happen when you sit or stand up perhaps?

    The dizziness can be part of the migraine. I get very dizzy with the migraines sometimes and had positional vertigo for 12 months straight.

    Keep searching for answers with the specialists and don't let them fob you off.

    Physio and osteopathy are both worth a shot.

  • Your symptoms are a mirror of what I was like last year. I had VM back in august and had similar knock on effects as are experiencing.

    I also had a unknown infection in my body which didn't help and was on constant courses of anti biotic for a time.

    I had CT scan and a MRI scan and thankfully no lasting damage. Do not underestimate the recover time from VM though 6 weeks is nothing.

    I couldn't honestly do escalators for months after. Supermarkets well, the lights noise etc was horrid and would cause me to just have to sit ( sorry tesco as was sick and fainted once).

    I mentioned to my doctor about it as the dizziness and feeling sick all the time was getting me down and she gave me some travel sickness tablets which did help or rather take the edge off.

    I am currently on topamax as a preventative for chronic migraines, sertaline for low mood which is a side effect of the whole experience.

    I have only just gone back to work which I am finding extremely hard as I am a teacher and I know my GP isn't happy as the side effects of the topamax are not good but they are better than having Mike tyson fighting in my head constantly.

    Mention it to your GP as they will help and like I say 6 weeks is nothing. I am 7 months after and still recovering but so so much better and happy.

  • Sorry forgot to say check the sugar levels as well. A present I was also left with but please bare in mind not only did I have VM in the summer but also the double whammy of an horrendous unknown infection in my body as well, with the constant bloods, diabetes was also identified. I am positive about my whole situation as I was so great full if that is the word that I only had viral meningitis as all indicators were it was bacterial. Someone was definately looking after me that day as just viral and about 3 years work if infections in my body.

  • Hi Herbmonster and thank you for your reply,

    You do sound quite similar to me. I haven't been able to complete a shop in a supermarket since this all started but luckily have some fantastic local shops. My favourite is a farm shop in a very quite, dark shed! (I am even a teacher also but can't even think about going back to work yet). I know what you mean about being grateful - I have never felt as scared as spending a night in hospital being barrier nursed after being told we think you may have bacterial meningitis.

    I know six weeks is nothing and it will take long time to fully recover. My frustration/worry is the fainting as I am hurting myself when falling. My gp thinks the vm might have triggered something rather than it all being related but I am not so sure. I have two GPs thinking about a possible diagnosis which I do appreciate).

    I have had several tests for diabetes (urine, blood, blood sugars) but all come back negative.

    I will ask my gp about the meds you mentioned. I did have a patch for travel sickness when I came out of hospital because I couldn't keep any tablets down and it appeared to work a little. I had to reduce the dose of amitriptilylin incase it was contributing to blood pressure problems but the headaches are getting worse. I think I read on Menigintis Now that you're also asthmatic which is my biggest problem with medication (can't take NSAIDS due to asthma, can't take Triptans due to VM).

  • I saw a neurologist December as the MRI and CT scan were clear but the headaches were still horrendous. He was lovely and said it was most likely chronic migraines that could have been a result if the VM but he couldn't be 100% certain. I was on amtriptilylin but had to stop taking it as was making me so tired and like a zombie. This was because the enormormity of what happened to me. Not the VM but the infection caused me to be in hospital a bit longer and a scene from casualty with load's of doctors and tubes and machines is an under statement.

    The neurologist was amazing and topamax was started gradually to an effective level. 6 months off work and yes supportive but wanted to go back. Have returned on a phased which has increased each week by an hour. It has been extremely hard and if truth be known I have gone back two soon and the side effects of the preventative treatment plus work are not good but the joy that being in a classroom of 6 year old children makes me smile. Then I get home and collapse on a bad day from sheer exhaustion and sleep. Also determined to not let this out if the blue illness effect the rest of my life takes over

  • Thank you for your reply. Yes fainting appears to be related to when I stand up especially first thing in the morning/after waking up. They also happen more on days when I have a really bad can't move type of headache.

    My blood pressure has sometimes dropped when I stand up but it has also down this when being under observation in hospital (lying/sitting). I do sometimes think I have vertigo too but it is quite different to vertigo I have previously experienced (about 5 years ago related to ear problems). It is more of a swaying rather than spinning feeling if that makes sense.

  • Poor folks xxxxxx isn't it strange that we use visual imagery for our headaches. I've had episodes of nausea/ vomiting overwhelming heat rush..... Never associated it with the migraines. Have now pinned it down to low blood pressure ( it is anyway ) after eating a high calorie meal when the blood rushes to the stomach ? Solution worked out with GP and also works for my 27 year old half of everything when eating out, watch out with pizza, cheese and deserts I only weigh 8st 3 lbs so don't eat much anyway, when the wave starts, lie down with the feet raised, let the waves come and go, no vomiting and the feeling slowly passes. You get funny looks fom passers by !! lots of good wishes xxx

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