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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12 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

  • 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. ..


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