Headache Characteristics in Hospitalized Patients With Lyme Disease

Stephen N. Scelsa, Howard Sander, Steven Herskovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We reviewed 49 patients consecutively hospitalized for neurologic Lyme disease to determine the frequency and characteristics of recent onset headaches in this group. All patients had positive serum Lyme ELlSAs and other neurologic illness excluded. Recent‐onset headache occurred in 26 of 49 patients (53%). Patients with headache more commonly had central nervous system involvement (54% vs 19%, P<.05) and flu‐like illness (58% vs 19%, P<.0005). Eight of 26 (31%) met criteria for meningitis or encephalitis with abnormal CSF examinations. All 8 had focal findings (6), cognitive dysfunction (1), or both (1). The remaining 18 patients had recent‐onset headaches resembling migraine (9), tension‐type headache (5), or neither (4). Antibiotic treatment resulted in complete headache resolution in 11 of 14 patients with available follow‐up data. Based on these findings, we conclude that recent‐onset headaches are common in patients hospitalized with Lyme disease. Of those with meningitis or encephalitis requiring intravenous antibiotics, all had focal neurologic findings or cognitive abnormalities, not just headaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalHeadache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Lyme borreliosis
  • Lyme disease
  • encephalitis
  • headache
  • meningitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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