Headache is the most common symptom of brain tumors. Although the brain itself feels no pain, other structures including blood vessels, the covering of the brain, and nerves in the head produce pain in response to pressure or displacement caused by a tumor. Brain tumors can occur at any age and may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Headaches associated with brain tumors cause specific symptoms that help distinguish them from other types of headaches.
Early Morning Pain
Brain tumor-induced headaches are typically worst in the morning just after awakening. The pain may wake you up. The cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain accumulates in the head when you are lying down. This increases pressure on the brain along with increased pressure from the growing tumor, causing early morning headache pain. Headaches associated with brain tumors characteristically ease as the day wears on.
Head Pain Relieved by Vomiting
Headaches caused by a brain tumor are often accompanied by vomiting, with or without nausea. This is due to increased intracranial pressure and often occurs in the morning, although it can occur at other times during the day. Headache pain that is relieved by vomiting is a typical symptom of brain tumor.
Head Pain Worsened by Straining
Straining commonly aggravates the head pain caused by a brain tumor. Coughing, sneezing, heavy lifting, and straining to have a bowel movement are typical triggers for increased head pain. The increased pain is due to a temporary increase in intracranial pressure than accompanies straining.
Nonthrobbing Head Pain
Unlike many other forms of headache, the pain of a brain-tumor associated headache typically does not throb. This is because the pain comes from increased pressure on the brain due to the growing tumor and physical displacement of brain structures rather than by blood vessel spasms. Headaches caused by brain tumors typically present with dull, constant, aching pain. The pain is often located on the same side of the head as the tumor, although this is not always the case.