The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image
Open Access

Headaches add to the burden of epilepsy

  • Marte Syvertsen1,
  • Grethe Helde1,
  • Lars Jacob Stovner1, 2 and
  • Eylert Brodtkorb1, 2Email author
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the European Headache Federation20078:398

Received: 15 May 2007

Accepted: 22 June 2007

Published: 24 September 2007


The objective was to investigate and classify headaches in 109 consecutive adult patients with epilepsy. A semi-structured interview was performed in those who confirmed such symptoms (65%). Interictal headaches were present in 52%; 20% had interictal migraine. Postictal headache was reported in 44%. Migraine characteristics were present in 42% of these, and most of them (74%) also suffered from interictal migraine. Six percent had preictal headache. In partial epilepsy, there was an association between headache lateralisation and interictal EEG abnormalities (p=0.02). We conclude that headache, including migraine, is very common in patients with epilepsy. Unilateral headache may represent a lateralising sign in focal epilepsy. Seizures often trigger postictal headaches with migraine features, which often are associated with interictal migraine. Migrainous headaches sometimes proceed into epileptic seizures. The comorbidity of migraine and epilepsy should receive ample clinical attention, as it may influence antiepileptic drug choice, and the headache may need specific treatment.


Interictal headachePostictal headachePreictal headacheEpilepsyMigraineAntiepileptic drugs


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