I am a 54 year old female diagnosed with transverse myelitis and MS in 2001. I also have gastroparesis, PFD and IBS. My question concerns a vago response (like benign cough headache) that occurs when I have an IBS attack. Bowel movement starts out normally, but continues until I start feeling nausea. When I wretch or start to vomit, I get an instant violent headache that literally puts me on the floor for a couple of minutes. The headache is so severe and violent that my neurologist gave me an MRI and MRA which showed nothing. I have been having these for years and the only way to prevent them is to not have an IBS attack. What are your thoughts on this? Could it be from jugular vein? Should I see cardiologist? I'd really like to know what is happening. They are very scary.
These sudden headaches could certainly be caused by the primary or secondary cough headache syndrome. Cough headaches do not need to accompany a cough; simply straining, vomiting or any other activity that suddenly increases intrathoracic pressure can trigger these headaches. Primary cough headaches are generally intermittent, rare and brief without any known cause. Secondary cough headaches are caused by conditions that lead to a sudden rise in the pressure in your head; many of these conditions can be detected by an MRI scan.
Rip Kinkel MD
Director, University of California San Diego MS Center
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