DR FLO: Why doesn't this headache respond to painkillers?


Almost all diseases that affect the body can cause a headache.

Tuesday June 18 2019

Dr Flo, my husband has a bad headache. He is on high blood pressure medication and he is always taking Hedex to ease the pain. Last week, he went to the hospital where several tests were done and the doctor told him his pressure was high. He was given medication and told to return the next day for a head scan, but it was not done; instead he was given medicine to take for one month, but the pain is not going away. What could be the problem? Modester

Dear Modester,
Headaches can occur for many reasons including pain coming from within the head itself or from problems elsewhere in the body. Almost all diseases that affect the body can cause a headache. In addition, you can get a headache due to stress, dehydration, hunger, inadequate or too much sleep, light, weather changes, screens (phones and computers), among other causes.
High blood pressure can also trigger a headache and sometimes it can mean there is ongoing tissue damage within the head due to the elevated pressure. If this is suspected, the affected person should be admitted for proper blood pressure control and for further investigations to check other organs, and possibly, a CT scan of the head.
It would be advisable for your husband to see a physician (internal medicine specialist) for blood pressure management and tests to find the cause of the headache so as to get proper treatment.
Taking Hedex every day for long could expose him to side effects of the medication.

Dr Flo, I have this swelling on the left side of my pelvic area just slightly above my phallus. It has been there for a while and it is painless. I, however, feel discomfort/pain when I need to go for a shortorlong call; and at such times it gets bigger. There's no hard lump when I touch or feel it with my hands. What could be issue? Please help. AP

Dear AP,
You may be having a hernia, which is a swelling that occurs when underlying organs push through a weakness in the muscle or tissue that holds it in, for example, when intestines protrude through a weakness in the abdominal wall so that in that area, they are lying just under the skin.
They commonly appear in the abdomen, at the umbilicus, at the inguinal region (upper thigh), the groin or at the site of a previous abdominal surgery.
In the early stages, it can easily go back in and come out when internal pressure increases e.g. when you cough or strain your muscles to lift something or to pass stool. Complications can arise when a part of the intestine gets trapped, causing severe pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation. If the trapped intestine does not get blood supply, then the tissue can die which leads to perforation, serious infection and possible death.
Because it happens due to a weakness or an opening in the overlying tissue, the only way to manage it permanently is through surgery to close up the weak or open area.
It is advisable for you to have an ultrasound scan done to properly define the swelling and then be reviewed by a surgeon for the way forward.

Dr Flo, I had abdominal pain and the doctor carried out an ultrasound and told me it is pelvic inflammation. Kindly tell me the causes and effects. Faith

Dear Faith,
In pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), there is infection in the internal reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries) and sometimes it can cause inflammation within the pelvic space. It usually occurs due to a sexually transmitted infection (e.g. chlamydia or gonorrhoea) that spreads upwards from the vagina to the uterus and fallopian tubes. The infection can also occur during childbirth, miscarriage or an abortion.
It can cause low abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, nausea, fever, abnormal uterine bleeding, pain during sex or pain when passing urine or stool.
Risk factors for getting PID include starting to have sex at an early age, having multiple partners and unprotected intercourse with someone who has multiple partners, having an STI, and douching.
PID can be treated with antibiotics and some people may need repeated treatment.
When PID is untreated it can cause scars in the reproductive organs, ectopic pregnancy, infertility or prolonged pain. You can also develop a collection of pus (abscess) which has to be drained through surgery.

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