National Migraine Centre
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Mystery persistent headache, no painkillers work, underlying low white blood count

My teenage son had a long drawn out illness, earlier this year, marked out by persistent migraine type headache, achy neck and fatigue. Doctors put it down to glandular fever type virus, although it was not glandular fever he had a persistent low white blood cell count for 3 months whilst suffering with frequent relapses. Eventually he got better and no more symptoms. A week ago, he was floored with the same symptoms again, and has been in bed ever since. Doctor prescribed beconase for sinusitus, which he has taken for a week, no effect on headaches. He has also got a sore throat and back of neck. Pain killers have no effect on headaches, including co-codimol. They do work with some of the other symptoms such as the neck ache. My brother, a consultant Dr, thinks the headaches are migraines, but he can't explain the persistency, but thinks they need further investigation. Should I be asking for MRIs or other scans or even bone marrow test? Or do I just wait it out for weeks until he recovers again. if it is just some mystery auto immune virus. of course his school work is suffering.

5 Replies

Have you had your neck checked?


Good Morning,if he was my son i would take him for MRI and other tests to rule out any others problems,low white blood could be a virus on going if its only migraine then you can deal it. best of luck.

1 like

I suggest you request whatever tests can be done to try to get to the bottom of this. Your son is obviously suffering and nothing will change unless you persist and maybe pester your GP. If he has migraines they could be relieved by sumatriptan which can be bought from a pharmacy at a price. If it does work you should then be able to get a prescription for future attacks. If tests for his symptoms draw a blank you may be looking at ME/CFS or fibromyalgia. Unfortunately these conditions have no direct treatment, it's a case of managing the symptoms and pacing to manage whatever energy you have without bringing on a relapse.

I wish you both well in getting this sorted out x


One thing frequently missed as symptoms can be vague is Lyme Disease! Not everybody gets the rash! and it often has a low white blood cell result!



Thanks everyone, sorry for not replying sooner, have got to the bottom of it, he finally disclosed that he was suffering deep anxiety and depression and the migraines have subsided now that he has unburdened himself, the dr said they are probably his asomic signs . As far as the white blood cell count? well probably underlying long term viral infection but again, could just be another side effect of depression. He is now being treated for his depression and is headache free for the mo.


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