Stopping Headaches after Seizure

For many people with epilepsy, headaches came righ along for the ride.  Headaches after seizure are very common, but the good news is that they can often be minimized or stopped.

Headaches that go along with Epilepsy

Headaches that go along with seizures don’t always come after the seizure.  For some, a headache may be a warning sign that an attack is on its way.  These are sometimes called pre-ictal headaches.  Others have a headache which is actually a part of the seizure (an icatl headache).  These are quite rare.  The headache may even be the only symptom, in which case you’ll need an EEG to confirm that it’s a seizure.

But we’re talking about the most common type of headache with seizure, headaches after seizure, or a postictal headache.  About 45% of people with epilepsy get these, so you’re not alone!  Most commonly headaches will happen after tonic-clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal or gran mal seizures), but you may get a headache after other types of seizure as well.

Step 1: Identify the Headache

The curious thing is that these headaches are different in each person.  It’s likely the case that different people are predisposed to various kinds of headache.  For example, if you have migraine disease already, you may end up with a migraine attack with headache.

Treating headaches after seizure will very much depend on what type of headache you have.  You’ll need to watch symptoms carefully, perhaps over some time, and talk to a doctor who knows your medical history.

Pay attention to things like: how long does the headache last (typically postical headaches last from 6 to 24 hours)?  Is it throbbing, right, piercing, etc?  Where is the headache?  Is it accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, dizziness, fatigue, etc?  This can be tricky, of course, because you’re trying to differential between what is part of the seizure, and what only comes along with the headache (if there are times you get a headache, and times you don’t).

Commonly, you could have a tension-type headache, or migraine.

Treating Headaches after Seizure

Now that you and your doctor have a theory about the type of headache you’re getting, you can move on to treatment.  There are two kinds of treatment your doctor may recommend.

First, abortive – that is, you take something for the headache when you get it.  Common over the counter medications might be used, like aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil).  Or your doctor may suggest a prescription that may work better for you.  If you’re getting migraine attacks, there are many abortives commonly used, such as triptans (ie Imitrex, Zomig)

Your doctor may also suggest preventative or prophylactic treatment.  That is, preventing the headaches from happening.  This is especially used if you are getting a lot of headaches after seizure.

Sometimes seizure medication is also a treatment for headache or migraine.  Depakote (valproate semisodium) is one example.  There are various other drugs and supplements that are very effective especially for headache from migraine.

Stopping the headaches

The headaches are related to the seizures, of course, but you may need to treat seizures and headaches as two seperate conditions.  Still, it’s important that your doctor knows about both conditions, and your medical history, so that she knows best what treatment to suggest.

The bottom line is, headaches after seizure are not something you automatically have to live with.  There is a wide range of treatment available.  These headaches are worth fighting.

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30 comments… add one
  • lisa May 4, 2009

    I have had 2 seziures in 1 week. I am going to see my doctor Wednesday. I am ver concern about my head pains. I have them everyday day and night. The hospital took a MRI so I will find out from my doctor hopefully what is going on. My eyes look weak. I just don’t feel like me and it is making me feel weak. I am so scared. I don’t want to go through a seziure like I did again. I din’t have control of my body. I hit my head hard again on the wall. I hope I get a answer. I want my life back. I am taking Carbatrol right now. Maybe I need something different. Sincerly Lisa

    • mike May 4, 2014

      Ask your doctor about trileptal and kepra, my little brother has cerebral palsy and started getting seizures when he was around 13, they started him with pill form of carbatrol and it wasn’t very affective, we then started with a liquid form of “trileptal” and it worked well for a while then the seizures came back then they tried “kepra” along with “trileptal” and he hasnt had a seizure for at least 3 years, I am so very sorry that you have seizures, I hope you find the right mix to keep them away, I’ve never had them but with a handicapped brother who does, i can slightly understand what you go through, he has been through so much, try to stay positive and please ask your doctor what he thinks about the two medicines

      • G.Michael McGarel Aug 27, 2016

        mike im so sorry to hear what your going through. i had a stroke and now have very minor seizures. I know your freightened, but may i offer you peace. the lord jesus loves you and is willing to forgive your sins. his blood can cleanse any sin. i cant help your seizures, but i can help you not be afraid. Christ is alive and know everything about you, make your peace with God through Jesus Christ. we live in bodies of Death and pain, we are not promised tomorrow, find peace with the lord. before anything else. i hope you find peace as well as a better med for your seizure problem. I having a seizure actually while im writting this comment. i passed out already once. take care. lord bless michael.

      • Jade May 4, 2017

        I can relate to your brother. I have mild cerebral palsy and developed epilepsy when I was about 15. It’s scary and I want to find an effective way to treat my seizures along with the headaches they cause. I’ve been using Keppra for a couple of years and it’s pretty good at treating the epilepsy itself.

    • Jennifer May 4, 2017

      Hi Lisa,
      I was actually born with (Epilepsy)
      both grand-mal) and (petit-mal) and for years had seizures every single day,
      I’m now taking Keppra 1250mg both in the morning and at night so I have actually been completely seizure free for just about a year now and I am so thankful to be able to have my new doctor actually taking the time and patience to listen to me and what’s been going on with me and the symptoms that I had been having to be able to get me
      1) on the correct medication and dosage and,
      2) actually wanting to make sure that she is on top of it to make sure that I am and stay seizure free!

  • christin Jun 17, 2010

    Lisa i have had epilepsy for about 6 years now. Carbatrol has worked amazingly for me. Its just the doses that they have to work on. I take 600mg in the morning and 800mg at night. As of now i have not has a siezure in almost 3 years. I understand how you feel. I cannot take a bath by myself and i couldnt get my license for a long time. It is a huge burdon on our lives and feels like you never know when its going to happen if it does. I feel for you. I hope your doctors get your siezures under control. and it can go away.

  • kris Sep 7, 2010

    hey my roommate sufferes from seizures. she just had on i was looking online to see if it ok to give her any sort of headache med since she is slowly regaining conciousness and is complaining about her head hurting. i myself suffer from migrains and to let everyone know out there: Excedrine, its a heavy allergy med you can find in almost any gas station, works very well at calming migrains and headaches. it has caffine in it as well. i find this far more effective than any med’s previously tried to help with migrains.

  • doris Mar 7, 2012

    When I have seizures I get dilly of headache and it lasts several days. My last seizure was Monday before waking and it was granmal. I still have headache and I am apprehensive about taking something else for this. Do you take anything that may work for you? Thanks.

  • Courtnie Jan 8, 2013

    I started having seizures almost 5 years ago after I turned 19. But because I was young, I was doing what young people do which is go out and “party”. So, I “woke up” in a hospital and was surrounded by A LOT of people. My head hurts after every seizure in the front. The forehead. I had just gotten engaged a month before my first seizure and was afriad that if they continued I would loose him. Because I had been out that night and I couldn’t remember ANYTHING, they detoxed me with this black charcole liquid stuff. NASTY. I complained about my head ache but my doctor just shrugged it off. She stayed till 1am then went home and came back at 6am. But… right before she had gotten there I had gone into another grand-mal seizure while I was asleep.I had no idea what the “animal instint” was until i “woke up” at 6:30am strapped down. When I was being brought to the hospital I attacked 2 paramedics, and when I went into the one while I was asleep, I knocked out a nurse. My fiancee says that everytime I have a seizure its a good hour to two hours before I will even let him near because I don’t know who he is. Now that it’s been 5 years and I have 1-3 seizures a month, he knows how to handle them and just wait for me to come around. But each time, i loose more and more memory. I look in my journals to see what I did the day or even weeks before the seizure and its like reading something I wrote, saying wat i did, but to me I do not remember. Then he was watching tv last night about turrets and seizures, when they started about headaches in the forehead, its because memory loss. That is where all your memory is stored.Every day, seizure or no seizure, my memory slips from me. I am 22 years old.

  • porche Mar 17, 2013

    My younger brother started having seizures when he was abot 15. Since he’s develop them i’ve seen them and every time, it just scares me into thinking he’s gone leave me. I sometimes dont kno what to do because his seizures r seriously dangerous. After them he has. headaches so bad he’s just in a nasty mode. I really wish it was so.ething or somewhere that he could go to and get treated fot this and all the seizures would just vanish so he could have a life like everyone else. Even when he takes it easy it still comes……

  • lisa Mar 26, 2013

    Hi! I have been having seizures for a long time. I noticed that they have slowed down a lot. But I do know something. I can’t think straight. I mean when I try to think about something, I can’t remember when it did happen. But I know now when they do start to come on my husband can see it in my eyes. He ask me if I have head pain and yes I do, I take my medicine and sometimes I can catch it before it happens. I am going through menopause and this is bad enough. Even if I keep on taking Carbatral for the rest of my life I am going to have to live with it. I guess it can be worse.

  • Thomas Brooks Aug 20, 2013

    My name is Thomas im 27 i had a car accident in 05 where i had a brain injury. I didn’t have my first seizure until 08. I was in what i call seizure denial for the first few seizure i had. My head hurts terribly after a seizure. I have them in my sleep every time. This is scary becuz i.have to sleep.every night, i jus had 6 last night and suffering from a headache now. Yes they.definitely destroy the part of ur.brain that controls memory. My memory poor i can.leave the family room.& go.into.the kitchen & 4get what i was doin. I also see people that.iv known b4 & i cnt remember them at all. Through all.this im still one of the happiest people u cud ever meet. Research should help us.further more in the near future.

  • Jordan Nov 4, 2013

    When I get these headaches after my grand mal seizures, although it is illegal but pish posh cannabis completely wipes the headache. Only try this though if panadol and etc Doesn’t work. This literally has worked every time for me so I hope this information can help others alike with epilepsy.

  • Pete Mar 11, 2014

    How do you take your cannibus? My girlfriend’s Neurologist just prescribed it for her and she feels funny about taking it. Her doctor recommended that she should make it into a butter and take it. She gets horrible migrines after her seizures.

    • Sherri Lynn Herrmann Aug 7, 2014

      Pete….I have seizures and use cannabis. ..There are many ways to use it….vaporizing is the most healthy way to smoke. Your best bet..If you have one in your area…and a doc script…go to a dispensary. …they will help….G’s u c k to you m’friend. ..


  • Celestè May 19, 2015

    I have 2 children with serebral palsy and both are mentaly handicap with epilepsy. My two girls is also in wheelchairs, they cannot walk and I have to do every thing for them as well. Because my daughters are mentally handicap it is very difficult to know what they are feeling and how bad is Zeldrè’s headache. She is almost 20 years of age. It is the third day now that she has a headache. Usually it is a warning sign that a grand mal is on its way, but because she can not properly communicate with me I can not understand what kind of headache she has and in how much pain she is. The doctor also said that when she wakes up in the morning with a headache she already had a fit. How will I ever know if she is just having a headache or did she already had a fit and that is the cause of her headache. I know by now, since this is the third day, the fit will come tomorrow or the next day any time from half past 4 am. I just don’t know any more with these headaches. How can I help my daughter?

  • doris yeager Sep 8, 2015

    Today was the second seizure within two weeks and the dilly of headache is here again. What do you take to help with this? Think I’ll contact doctor tomorrow as the headache did not used to last for so long. Does this happen to you? Thanks.

  • Catherine Oct 18, 2015

    Hi my name is catherine and I suffer from epilepsy and I had my last seizure last Sunday I went in to hospital and I didn’t come round for at least 2 till 3 days I banged my head they checked but there was a bump they didn’t scan which I thought was unusual but iv had headaches since then iv been back to my Dr she said she has sent me for an emergency ct scan which was supposed to come last week so I went back and the letter coming out this week also she said it’s the side affects of all the medications I’m on keppra twice morn and evening and lamictal 3 in the morn and evenings iv taken painkillers but isn’t working feel light headed unsteady on my feet and dizzy feeling fatigue all the time also I don’t know if it’s cuz of my recent diagnosis which is diabetes I normally get a headache before @ seizure and after

  • Shane Jan 15, 2016

    Hiya guys I had a seizure Christmas night I came out of hospital last Tuesday my headaches are gone thank god but I’m wondering is it ok to take tramadol 50 mg after having a seizure ? I’m a bit worried it might bring another one on ? Or am I being a drama queen

    • Ashley Jan 29, 2016

      You were hospitalized that long? No. Do not do anything until you see your neurologist.

      Self medicating is dangerous.

      • Shane Mar 3, 2016

        Yeah I was in for a lot longer than I expected I’ve had every test possible but still no idea of the cause , touch wood I been ok since hopefully it was a one off , bit of a killer not being able to drive but better safe than sorry

  • Ashley Jan 29, 2016

    I am on 3 different Epilepsy medications and have a vagus nerve stimulator( VNS) this is the first time I’ve had a headache. I can’t ever tell when I am going to have a seizure but my 11 year old daughter can.
    Days before. I’m tired of this. 32 years old and have to call my dad every night to let him know that I am alive or he sends the cops to my house. Attention span of about 5 minutes knocked out three front teeth sliced my nostril in half broke my nose countless times died twice… Haven’t driven in years…no family in town.

  • Nikkigz Mar 2, 2016

    I have a 14 and has been suffering with seizure like symptoms since October 2015. He has been hospitalized after going from every other week to once a week to daily seizures. He had an EEG when he was in the hospital and all they could tell me that it’s not epilepsy. The neurologist recently put my son on gabapentin 300 MG 2x daily for the headaches bur nothing is working! I am worried sick and need answers.

  • Debi Apr 22, 2016

    I had suffered from migrants since my teens. At age 44 I fell in our kitchen and hit the back of my head on the ceramic tile floor. I was transferred to a trauma unit in the ICU and put into a medically induced coma for 5 days. I fractured my skull and neck. Damaged the occipital, parietal and frontal lobes of my brain. I also suffered a subaracchnoid hemorrhage. That was 4 years ago. Since then, I get excruciating head pain. I am in the ER at least 2-3 times per month for siezures (secondary to the brain bleed )The doctors try Fioicet for a migraine…that doesn’t work. I had migraines for years, I know the difference. Now they have resorted to giving me Valium & Dilaudid. It helps for the first 6 hours, and then it’s back. I just want a doctor who will actually look into what is going on. I am on my 8th round of siezure meds, none are working. I am just afraid and tired of living in pain. Any advice?

  • Tanya Sep 27, 2016

    I had my first grandma seizure, that lasted a Lil over two minutes,since the seizure I been having had pounding headache,I can’t put my teeth together so I can’t eat no hard food due to I can’t chew , I think that my jar is out of line could this cause my headaches , I take the caffeine pills that works but have to take it ever 4-5hr … or the pain is unbearable , don’t know if I should go to the dentist office or doctors office …. help me please . Not to mention that I’m a dialysis patient. I done miss two sections due to the headaches….. please someone help

  • Lori Grigor Nov 19, 2016

    I had brain surgery for epilepsy 20 yrs. ago. For some reason a few yrs. ago I started having seizures again. They usally happen in my sleep. I had a couple during my sleep last night. I was told that I would be able to have surgery again. I’m really thinking about this. I was told that epilepsy started when I was a infant from high fever. It damaged part of my brain on the left side. I didn’t have any growing up though. My seizures started when I was in my mid 20’s. I was skiing at whistler & thank god that I wasn’t on a chair lift or skiing. I was in a bar that evening & had a big seizure. I’ve had to take different kinds of medicine over the years & for some reason it doesn’t work.

  • Julie Dec 2, 2016

    You need to read the book Seized for God….I think that’s the name. It’s inspiring.
    And you need to research vitamins and minerals you might be lacking that can trigger seizures. Hormones can cause them. And I feel stress and lack of sleep can. And if you had some serious problems. ….like a death of a loved one, MAJOR stress for years or you almost died….check out PNES. Any questions feel free to ask.

  • Julie Jan 8, 2017

    I am 48 yrs old. I have had epilepsy since age 5. At 11, they weaned me off meds and I was seizure free until my teens. Then I mainly had myoclonic seizures sprinkled with a few grand mals a year, usually induced by being sick, lack of sleep and many types of meds are triggers..even things like Benadryl. Over the years, I assume my brain became more kindled. I started having 1-2 grand mals a week. I am amnesiac afterwards but not combative. In fact, I am very sweet to my husband,lol. I have a VNS implant, take ONLY brand name anticonvulsants, and there is a difference but I won’t go into the science of all that now. I take Klonopin for epilepsy and I take Lamictal for mood stabilization. I suffer horrible headaches after a grand mal. I have been using Relpax, which worked well but 2 days ago I had a grand mal in my sleep..I can’t pinpoint a definite trigger except maybe my meds became low in my system. Digestion factors can alter drug absorption. I also have extreme nausea afterwards, zofran works pretty good for that. The VNS has been implanted for 1 year now and I’ve only had 2 grand mals since. I swipe my magnet after having one and it seems to help with recovery. It used to be a good full week before I felt like myself. Now, in 3-4 days I am usually up and about and able to function better. I seem more alert and suffer less memory loss. I have had my neck fused at 2 levels, a rotator cuff repair and the numerous abrasions, pulled muscles, bruises etc and I know the pain and frustration dealing with this. I try to stay on a ketogenic diet. It’s not the easiest but helps lift overall brain fog. No sugar, no wheat, a little bit of carbs from veggies but bulk of diet is fat, then protein. Fat is where most of my calories come from though and I lost a lot of weight, felt better, and have not regained the weight. There are many, many lifestyle changes that can enhance treatment, even lesson the need for some. I have accepted that this will be a part of my life and make the sacrifices to do my best to increase my health. I would ask your physician about the various migraine meds and keep those on hand and nausea meds if needed. If interested in the VNS consult with a Dr. It isn’t used just for epilepsy, it can help or eliminate depression. It is also used in children with autism. I have the implant that is like a pacemaker. It takes adjusting to but I don’t regret it and I waited quite some time before I had it done and researched a lot and talked with other patients. For mentally impaired, it may enhance their functioning. I think they are just on the tip of the iceberg still and discovering methods such as these to help people with neurological deficits. I, like many others, usually don’t have any forewarning. Sometimes I will have a series of myoclonic jerks then a grand mal and I can run and get in a safe place, sometimes not. Most people suffer the greatest from injuries, including death, from the falls, not the seizure itself. Stay safe and may grace be with you all. Research and do whatever you can to help yourself. Always consult your Dr but also remember no one knows your body like you do. I am not hyper religious. I work together with my physician but I also know a line of scripture which is “physician heal thy self”. Which tells me I also must seek within and find answers for myself. I am thankful for healthcare but it too is a business with its own agenda, and to rely solely, without question, blindly, is to give your power away. Trust me, it is a battle at times, but it is worth it because your questions and research not only for yourself but for us all. Find a good Dr., work as a team, but don’t be afraid to stand up and question anything.

  • Courtney Feb 2, 2017

    My daughter is 11 years old and just had her first seizure two weeks ago a grand mal one. Since then we have done all the test and they have come back normal but she has had most symptoms of Epilepsy but that one came back normal. Since her seizure she has been complaining of headaches and we cant figure out why and some days she has 3 a day. Waiting for an MRI but any tips or help would be greatly appreciated. The doctor has us doing a headache diary but when she crying cause the headache hurts so bad and tyenol isnt working fast enough or working I feel helpless.

  • Crystal Sixkiller Sep 28, 2017

    I’ve had seizures since I was 12 recently I had a gran mal seizure and after my head was in so much pain from the headache and my teeth were hurting I tried to take some headache tension pills which usually work but my head is still hurting so bad. I haven’t had a seizure in so long but now that it happened its terrible. I tried everything but I guess I’ll just have to wait it out😠

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