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Suggest treatment for difficulty in sleeping with severe headache

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Posted on Mon, 18 Jul 2016
Question: My son is out of town at camp as a counselor and he is having trouble sleeping...this is what he says is going on. It's like my body needs to release energy and a lot of my muscles contract and my body shutters and sometimes my eyes get really big and it makes me tired and gives me a headache. And it hurt my heart. That's where I feel it after everything relaxes again. He also said that it is worse at night when he is trying to go to sleep. Happens every 20 seconds or so. He is almost 19 and a college soccer player. Very active and in good physical condition. He is 2-3 hours from home and I am freaking out. There is a doctor there but he hasn't had a chance to see him yet.
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Answered by Dr. Dariush Saghafi (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Sorry to hear your son is having trouble away at camp

Detailed Answer:
Good afternoon. I've read your statements and am sorry that your son is not comfortable at the camp he attends as a counselor. Perhaps this is his first experience in this type of environment. You've already said that he is a collegiate soccer player so I'm sure he's in fine physical shape. My son plays rugby for XXXXXXX XXXXXXX University here in XXXXXXX Ohio and they started practice again yesterday....so I'm worried about any cardiac conditions to be honest.

Many times when people change environments from their usual comfortable place anxiety can set in. And if he is a camp counselor not only does he have to worry about himself but all of the campers' problems can become his as well. And even though they all bed down for the night....the counselors are usually having to pull watches to make sure all the kids (don't know what the ages of the campers are) are comfortable and not having any problems.

Therefore, for him getting to sleep finally at the end of a day of activities may be challenging as it is and especially if he's got a lot of camp issues on his mind.

Certainly, his symptoms as you've described do not strike me as being anything related to a specific syndrome of a medically important nature. The first part of the description you provide is very consistent with a person with a lot of muscle tension which could translate into a headache of sorts. Stress is the #1 trigger for all types of headaches and while he's certainly not having migraine headaches he is likely describing tension or stress type headaches. The chest discomfort that bothers him after he's relaxed again is consistent with someone under stress or tension.

I don't disagree that it would be a good idea for a doctor to take a look at him and possibly order some minor testing if clinically indicated or appropriate but other than that my impression is that your son will do fine if he tries to employ relaxation techniques and exercises that he can actually do while lying in bed preparing for sleep. He may also be suffering from some degree of dehydration if they're in a hot environment and are doing a lot of activities during the day. I would advise that he make sure he carries a canteen of water with him throughout the day and depending upon the amount of exertion take sips of water every 30 minutes or so. If

He can also try putting on relaxing music with the headphones the kids like to use these days and this may help him relax even further.

Also, and depending upon how long he will be gone at this camp would it be possible for you or someone from the family to simply make a trip up to visit him and perhaps take him some additional supplies in case they do not have things such as some Tylenol or Advil for minor headaches and such. You may also check with him to see if he could use an extra sleeping bag or blanket in the event he may be up in the hilly or mountainous areas and it gets colder at night?

If your question was adequately responded to could you do me the favor of CLOSING THIS QUERY?

I sincerely hope your son confers with the doctor and let's see what he finds or recommends. And please do let me know if you'd like the outcome of how things come out. You can write to me at: www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi

This query has utilized a total of 54 minutes of professional time in research, review, and synthesis for the purpose of formulating a return statement.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Dr. Dariush Saghafi

Neurologist

Practicing since :1988

Answered : 2474 Questions

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Suggest treatment for difficulty in sleeping with severe headache

Brief Answer: Sorry to hear your son is having trouble away at camp Detailed Answer: Good afternoon. I've read your statements and am sorry that your son is not comfortable at the camp he attends as a counselor. Perhaps this is his first experience in this type of environment. You've already said that he is a collegiate soccer player so I'm sure he's in fine physical shape. My son plays rugby for XXXXXXX XXXXXXX University here in XXXXXXX Ohio and they started practice again yesterday....so I'm worried about any cardiac conditions to be honest. Many times when people change environments from their usual comfortable place anxiety can set in. And if he is a camp counselor not only does he have to worry about himself but all of the campers' problems can become his as well. And even though they all bed down for the night....the counselors are usually having to pull watches to make sure all the kids (don't know what the ages of the campers are) are comfortable and not having any problems. Therefore, for him getting to sleep finally at the end of a day of activities may be challenging as it is and especially if he's got a lot of camp issues on his mind. Certainly, his symptoms as you've described do not strike me as being anything related to a specific syndrome of a medically important nature. The first part of the description you provide is very consistent with a person with a lot of muscle tension which could translate into a headache of sorts. Stress is the #1 trigger for all types of headaches and while he's certainly not having migraine headaches he is likely describing tension or stress type headaches. The chest discomfort that bothers him after he's relaxed again is consistent with someone under stress or tension. I don't disagree that it would be a good idea for a doctor to take a look at him and possibly order some minor testing if clinically indicated or appropriate but other than that my impression is that your son will do fine if he tries to employ relaxation techniques and exercises that he can actually do while lying in bed preparing for sleep. He may also be suffering from some degree of dehydration if they're in a hot environment and are doing a lot of activities during the day. I would advise that he make sure he carries a canteen of water with him throughout the day and depending upon the amount of exertion take sips of water every 30 minutes or so. If He can also try putting on relaxing music with the headphones the kids like to use these days and this may help him relax even further. Also, and depending upon how long he will be gone at this camp would it be possible for you or someone from the family to simply make a trip up to visit him and perhaps take him some additional supplies in case they do not have things such as some Tylenol or Advil for minor headaches and such. You may also check with him to see if he could use an extra sleeping bag or blanket in the event he may be up in the hilly or mountainous areas and it gets colder at night? If your question was adequately responded to could you do me the favor of CLOSING THIS QUERY? I sincerely hope your son confers with the doctor and let's see what he finds or recommends. And please do let me know if you'd like the outcome of how things come out. You can write to me at: www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi This query has utilized a total of 54 minutes of professional time in research, review, and synthesis for the purpose of formulating a return statement.