It kind of feels like my head is going to explode

Photo of two boys by a lake

Tim, 13 years old

“I feel the pain all over the inside of my head, sometimes it’s a pounding pain. It comes on suddenly, goes away again and then comes back. This sometimes happens every few minutes.”

My migraines started about one and a half years ago. At first I had them quite often, maybe three times a month. Now they’re pretty rare, about once every two months. But unfortunately they haven’t gone away.

I know I’m getting a migraine when I start feeling nervous and sweating a little. Sometimes I feel sick too. Every once in a while I even have to throw up. And then about fifteen minutes later I get a headache. If it gets really bad at school, the teachers call my parents and they pick me up. That’s no problem, and my teachers are understanding. But missing school is a pain. I end up having to repeat all of the lessons.

Bright lights are very unpleasant. They make it feel like my head is going to explode. When I’m at home I go to my room, lie down, close the blinds and try to relax. The room has to be dark because if the light is bright my eyes really hurt. Sometimes I also listen to an audio book, but it has to be turned down. Putting a warm gel mask on my face makes me feel better sometimes too.

If that doesn’t work, I take a painkiller. That usually makes the pain go away. The tablets helped from the first time we tried them. They do take a little while to work, but the main thing is that they work.

The pain comes and goes every few minutes

I feel the pain all over the inside of my head, sometimes it’s a pounding pain. It comes on suddenly, goes away again and then comes back. This sometimes happens every few minutes. Without tablets it might last an hour or often even longer. But usually I take medicine quickly so that it doesn’t get so bad and doesn’t last as long.

I can’t exactly say what it is that triggers my migraines. I know I sometimes get them when I feel stressed out. My parents and teachers also say they think it has something to do with the weather.

The first few times I had such bad headaches, my parents were pretty taken aback. They were so bad that I couldn’t do anything at all. We saw a doctor because of them and also went to an eye doctor since my eyes always hurt so much. My parents already suspected that I might have migraines because one of my uncles also has them.

My friends aren’t really interested in my migraines. They know I get headaches from time to time. But they don’t know how bad the headaches are. I don’t like talking about it much, especially if I think people find it boring.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on August 4, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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