Headaches are common following TBI. The injured service member or veteran may have experienced headaches prior to the TBI, but they may worsen due to fatigue, stress, or a history of headaches. Some people may have a headache all the time, and some headaches come and go. Proper clinical guidance, assessment, and diagnosis from your provider are important. Treatment plans will be developed for each individual patient.

What might you see?

  • Pain in the head or neck (pain may be pulsing, pounding, or burning with possible aura)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea
  • Poor concentration

How can you help?
As directed by the provider:

  • Ask the service member or veteran to lie down in a dark and quiet place to relax and promote sleep; rest and sleep can help relieve a headache.
  • Use heat or ice on the forehead or neck.
  • Encourage the person to:
    • Avoid bright sunlight, especially going from a dark building into bright sunlight; they may need to wear dark sunglasses to avoid triggering a headache.
    • Avoid or decrease alcohol consumption.
    • Avoid or decrease eating foods that trigger headaches (for example, cold foods).
    • Avoid or decrease use of electronic devices.
    • Manage stress by taking breaks during activities and practicing deep breathing exercises.
    • Keep track of headaches in a journal. Note the time of day, the activity, and intensity of pain. Share this information with the provider.
    • Take all prescribed medications at the same time every day.

If headaches do not improve and/or worsen after following these steps, call the provider.