Thursday, September 01, 2022

by Keith Bourke

A five-year-old Mayo boy is being treated in Ireland for headaches that occur when he laughs.

The boy first presented at the outpatient department at Mayo University Hospital “with a one-year history of headaches associated with laughter”. In a new paper in the current July-August edition of the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), the authors say they believe that it is the first ever published pediatric case report of laughter as a precipitating factor for headaches.

An investigation with a brain MRI revealed the boy had Chiari Type 1 Malformation (CM-1) where the lower part of the brain pushes down to the spinal canal.

One of the symptoms can be headaches which are usually felt at the back of the head and may be brought on or made worse by actions such as coughing or sneezing. In the case that was presented to medics at MUH, the authors of the new paper state that the five-year-old “experiences sudden onset generalised headaches of variable severity, associated predominantly with laughing and once with shouting”. The report also says “the pain is described as a tightening sensation around his entire head which may be associated with pallor, nausea, gagging or generalised weakness”.

In the paper, entitled Chiari Malformation Presenting as Headaches Associated with Laughter, the medics say “his reaction to the pain is to grasp his head with both hands and sit or lie on the floor. The pain lasts for several seconds, then subsides with a return to good form afterwards”. The report states that “these headaches have not interfered with schooling or hobbies including soccer and GAA”.

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By Keith Bourke
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