What is Paroxysmal Hemicrania?

949776_hangover_1Paroxysmal Hemicrania is a rare syndrome characterized by unbearable, boring or claw-like and throbbing headache. It usually affects adults. The pain is usually experienced in or around or behind the eye, rarely spreading to the back of the neck.

Patients also complain of a swollen or drooping eyelid on the affected side of the face, tearing and red eyes and nasal congestion. Moreover, symptoms such as tenderness or soreness of the affected area can be felt in between the attacks. The headache attacks may last for 2 to 45 minutes and may occur 5 to 40 times in a single day.

Types of Paroxysmal Hemicrania:

Two types of this condition have been identified: episodic and chronic.

Episodic – It is the common form among the two types in which               the frequency of headache is less, occurring once in several months or a year.

Chronic – It is also known as Chronic Paroxysmal Hemicrania (CPH) or Sjaastad syndrome. It falls under the category of primary headache disorders. Patients experience frequent attacks of headache on a daily basis for a year or more.

The term Chronic Paroxysmal Hemicrania (CPH) was coined by a neurologist Ottar Sjaastad in the year 1976 after careful examination of 2 patients. Both the patients complained of similar symptoms which included solitary, limited (paroxysmal), one-sided (hemicranias) severe headache on a daily basis (chronic).


Specific causes of this condition have not been identified. Patients with this condition are not prone to have any other neurological disorders except for trigeminal neuralgia. In some cases, attacks may be triggered by rotating or bending the head and applying pressure against the neck.

Treating Paroxysmal Hemicrania:

  • Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin can relieve the symptomatic pain completely.
  • Verapamil, a calcium-channel blocking drug and corticosteroids may also be used to treat the condition.

Regular exercises and sufficient sleep can reduce the frequency of headache attacks.

2 responses to What is Paroxysmal Hemicrania?

  1. Beth said on May 28, 2011

    I have this condition and just in the past 8 months I’ve noticed that when I have an attack if I drink a sweet drink (Sobe Starwberry Daiquiri) my headache becomes less sever.

  2. Yes… I get them too. It has taken 20 years to figure out what they are. I could never understand the dry sinuses… thought it was hormonal. I knew it was not a classic migraine and it did not respond to any migraine medication nor any normal pain killer. The fact that they would come and go… and for me… always over three days… my two sleep headache :( Nothing but nothing helps when I get them… but now I am 50 they have eased off… the last one was triggered Thursday night by two glasses of red wine… I felt a bit off Friday morning… but the headaches started in the afternoon and by the time I got home my eyes were bright red and I was yawning my head off… the onset of the headaches come with chronic tiredness… that is now I know they are starting. Then Saturday was just a write-off… Sunday not much better… Monday, (today) off work… and I can feel them going into remission now. I will be fine in the morning. I am going to try some indomethacin next time… maybe I can get better quicker… I hope so.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *