A surprise tumor offered an unsurprising calling card: nighttime headaches

When my friend April was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year, we were all shocked, including her doctor. After reviewing her medical records, he admitted he’d missed an important indicator: April had told him that headaches were waking her up at night.

This is a key symptom that needs to be taken seriously. Tension may cause people to wake with a headache, but if this occurs frequently the problem probably stems from a more severe health issue and needs to be checked out.

According to the Medline Plus medical encyclopedia, you should see your doctor if:

  • Headaches wake you from sleep
  • Headaches are worse in the morning
  • A headache lasts more than a few days
  • You have frequent headaches with no known cause
  • A history of headaches changes pattern or intensity

Medline Plus also suggests that you keep a headache diary so you can be as specific as possible with your doctor. Include details such as the location of the headache (isolated or all over), they way it feels (throbbing, isolated pressure, etc.), other symptoms that may accompany headaches, duration of headaches, etc.

I’m happy to report that April’s surgery went well, the tumor was benign, and the surgical team at Johns Hopkins was able to remove all of it.