persistent headache for over a year

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Hi all,

I am interested in community feedback in what I am about to say.

I am a young diver in prior good health. I dove a series of dives under 100 feet for 3 days in Jan 2020. On the last dive (max depth 60ft) , I surfaced and had an "odd sensation" immediately upon surfacing. The best description i can give is that I felt a little spaced out and my thinking felt slightly fuzzy. At the time I wasn't too alarmed, i just took a mental note and told myself to watch how this progresses and if anything comes of it. For about 24 hours I didn't think much more of it again. But the next evening following the dive I felt the strange sensation and I thought to myself that this feeling is odd and maybe i should call DAN. I didn't.

For the following month I felt hypersensitive to pressure. I was living at the top of a ridge and I would feel pressure gradients when I drove up. I also did some snorkeling and would feel like I wasn't able to equalize as well.

Then one month after my dive I coughed and felt a sharp pain on one side of my head. From that moment on until today (June 2021), i've had a headache that continuously plagues me. I've seen multiple neurologists, ENTs, and other doctors; and no answers. I'm learning now how hard it is to find a doctor familiar with dive medicine.

Any one have thoughts? I know what is typically taught to beginning divers is how easy it is to dismiss some DCI injuries (i.e. minor joint pain etc.). However, what they don't teach, and what i can't find more information about, is what happens when a "minor" DCI injury isn't treated. Is there some situations where an initially minor dive injury slowly progresses into something much more insidious over a long period of time?
 

lowflyer

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I'm a retired physician but would never speculate on what is going on with you. I trust that the neurologists have done a complete workup for the headaches, which may have nothing to do with the diving. I do hope you get a resolution of the symptoms, but I don't think this is the place to get it sorted out. Good luck.
 

dlofting

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My son had a similar problem about 5 or 6 years ago. I did a lot of research on the internet and actually got some information on "chronic daily headache". There was one specialist here in Vancouver who saw people with the condition but he was booked up at least a year in advance, so my son never saw him. Our family doctor narrowed it down to neck/back muscle issues that, combined with stress and tension, were causing the headaches but he was never able to successfully treat it. Eventually it just went away on its own.
 

Duke Dive Medicine

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Hi all,

I am interested in community feedback in what I am about to say.

I am a young diver in prior good health. I dove a series of dives under 100 feet for 3 days in Jan 2020. On the last dive (max depth 60ft) , I surfaced and had an "odd sensation" immediately upon surfacing. The best description i can give is that I felt a little spaced out and my thinking felt slightly fuzzy. At the time I wasn't too alarmed, i just took a mental note and told myself to watch how this progresses and if anything comes of it. For about 24 hours I didn't think much more of it again. But the next evening following the dive I felt the strange sensation and I thought to myself that this feeling is odd and maybe i should call DAN. I didn't.

For the following month I felt hypersensitive to pressure. I was living at the top of a ridge and I would feel pressure gradients when I drove up. I also did some snorkeling and would feel like I wasn't able to equalize as well.

Then one month after my dive I coughed and felt a sharp pain on one side of my head. From that moment on until today (June 2021), i've had a headache that continuously plagues me. I've seen multiple neurologists, ENTs, and other doctors; and no answers. I'm learning now how hard it is to find a doctor familiar with dive medicine.

Any one have thoughts? I know what is typically taught to beginning divers is how easy it is to dismiss some DCI injuries (i.e. minor joint pain etc.). However, what they don't teach, and what i can't find more information about, is what happens when a "minor" DCI injury isn't treated. Is there some situations where an initially minor dive injury slowly progresses into something much more insidious over a long period of time?

@Kaleb Duke can you be more specific as to the location of the pain in the side of your head? Have you had any radiologic imaging (CT, MRI, even an x-ray) done? If so, what were the results?

Best regards,
DDM
 
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@Kaleb Duke can you be more specific as to the location of the pain in the side of your head? Have you had any radiologic imaging (CT, MRI, even an x-ray) done? If so, what were the results?

Best regards,
DDM

Yes.
As mentioned , pain occurred a month after last dive and was triggered by a mild cough. It was located on the right side of the cranial vertex at the top of my head . Preforming pressure maneuvers would trigger pain : bending over , sneezing , coughing , etc . Months later pain (unilateral head pressure feeling )was persistent independent of those actions , but those actions presently continue to aggravate baseline persistent headache . Currently headache engulfs the entire right side of my head, i.e. from top of neck to top of head to behind the eye (all right side ).

The symptoms immediately after dive was just a vague feeling of that something was “amiss” . No pain or stroke like neurological conditions. Only reason it feels relevant now is because of refractory headache that transpired a month later .

I’ve had MRI of brain and spine and CTA of head . Nothing remarkable was found .


Kaleb
 

BoundForElsewhere

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Sounds like it could be a sinus / inner ear issue. What you described when you surfaced sounds a lot like vertigo which could have been caused by something loosening up in your inner ear. Then maybe when you coughed it caused more damage or dislodged something that shouldn't be. Go see an ENT with scuba experience.

Lots of stuff going inside our heads, besides the voices.

I just have to ask, though.... have you ever been abducted by aliens?
 

Duke Dive Medicine

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Yes.
As mentioned , pain occurred a month after last dive and was triggered by a mild cough. It was located on the right side of the cranial vertex at the top of my head . Preforming pressure maneuvers would trigger pain : bending over , sneezing , coughing , etc . Months later pain (unilateral head pressure feeling )was persistent independent of those actions , but those actions presently continue to aggravate baseline persistent headache . Currently headache engulfs the entire right side of my head, i.e. from top of neck to top of head to behind the eye (all right side ).

The symptoms immediately after dive was just a vague feeling of that something was “amiss” . No pain or stroke like neurological conditions. Only reason it feels relevant now is because of refractory headache that transpired a month later .

I’ve had MRI of brain and spine and CTA of head . Nothing remarkable was found .


Kaleb

@Kaleb Duke from your description this does not sound like an ENT issue, although you may want to see one to positively rule any out. I know you said you're young, but what have your blood pressure measurements been? Have you been taking any medications or using any other substances that could increase your blood pressure?

This could be a lot of things, but some of the possibilities are potentially serious conditions. For clarity, this is not an internet diagnosis, but the symptoms you're describing are concerning for either an intracerebral vascular issue (AV malformation, aneurism, or slow intracranial hemorrhage) or a cerebrospinal fluid flow issue. How long has it been since the scans, and is it possible to have them re-read by someone else? Are you seeing a neurologist?

Best regards,
DDM
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/teric/

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