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My “Windy Tunnel” Headache

When I was in elementary school (which ran through the end of seventh grade—this was before my home county moved to the middle school plan), I was an enthusiastic but not altogether talented athlete. What I lacked in skill I made up for in effort, though, and I loved to run and jump and play flag football and do my best to beat some of the boys in our daily running of laps.

I’m not sure when the nose/head discomfort began, but when I feel the way I do at the moment of this writing—left side of the head hurts, and it feels almost as if there’s a constant light flow of icy, painful wind going up my left nostril directly into my brain—I am reminded of running laps at the school playground. Was this pain common throughout my childhood at the school, or was it only in the later years as I approached puberty? I vividly recall running my way toward the backstop of the playground, feeling a sudden and sharp pain in the left side of my brain. I described it for people now and again, saying it felt like a tunnel had been drilled into my head and cold air was blowing through it. As I recall, no one (not even my doctor) seemed to understand or seemed to indicate that this was not normal.

This particular type of headache hasn’t reared its ugly head in quite sometime, though in the last couple of months it has come back to haunt me. Is it that I am also battling a cold and cough this week? Is it that spring has arrived, bringing along with it enough allergens to wipe out even those with strong immune systems? What gives?

Has anyone else had this particular brand of migraine pain? It almost seems to merit its own treatment, but I’m not sure what to do.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • tucker
    8 years ago

    I often get a “cold nose thru the forehead” feeling as part of my “headache”, which I never really treated as a migraine. The sad thing is that it is really cold where I work (ok, to ME and a couple other folks anyways) so I might even wear my parka inside in the winter and dress like it’s winter in the summer. Sometime’s with that cold nose feeling it feels like an icepick is being jammed in between my eyes. I’ve always taken advil and sudafed or if it was really bad, fioricet b/c I “save” my Imitrex for the my whole head is splitting open and I am gonna throw up headaches (even though I’m nauseated most days but no one knows why).

    I totally get what you are saying though. Mine kind of get better once I warm up but since I can wake up with them too (and I can wake up sweating so I know being too cold in my house is not the problem!) I kind of thought it might be some kind of congestion/allergy thing too. I do wake up congested though it clears up really quick after I am up and around and I’m NOT congested the rest of the day unless I have a cold. I do have allergies and a drippy nose all the time and the vents at work are covered in nasty thick dust (LOL how any cold or warm air gets thru is a mystery!)

    But everything I read says unless those sinuses are blowing itcky stuff, it’s not an infection so it must be a migraine. But how do you prevent these? That’s why I keep trying the sudafed hoping it’s allergies at least at work anyways. I already take allergy tablets. I have an appt next week w/ migraine doc. I’ll add this to my list. Poor guy, he’s gonna have a time w/me. I’ve been the “good” patient. After last month, I tired of feeling miserable!

  • Tonya Edwardson
    8 years ago

    I have experienced the wind tunnel and it is painful. My eyes water, pain in my ears, ringing sensitve to light.sound. My nose and face hurt. My skin is sensitive, nausea, neck pain, dizziness everyday. I’m going to an ear, nose and throat spec. I hope there is relief with some meds. I have to do a balence test and mri. I sleep 10 to 12 hrs a day and I’m so frusterated with all these symptoms. I thought all these symptoms were my fibermyalgia or epstein bar that I have and here it turns out that it is migrains and I pretty sure I have abdominal migrains as well. Good luck to all of you I hope you find a solution for your pain.

  • Sherrie Edwardson Leffel
    8 years ago


  • Marjorie Evans Gossage
    8 years ago

    Very interesting ~ I am under treatment for the migraine headache you are describing. I have never had a name for it – just the same symptoms. I also have a very sore knot on my eyeball, it does not bother my vision, but after 4 eye dr.- the last one a eye specialist who sent me to a neurologist, who is treating me for migranes with a series of shots in my upper spine ~ have just had the second shots this a.m. So far so good. Hopefully this will help.

  • Terri Lannings Johnson
    8 years ago

    Migraines affect different people differently and they change over time in an individual. My migraines started when I was very young with just stomach aches a lot, then moved to one side of my temples and neck and now in my 40’s. I just get them in one eye at a time. Nothing works now for them. I sometimes just want to tear my eyes out.

  • Kathryn Losea
    8 years ago

    I haven’t experienced the “wind tunnel” that you have, but I do get the severe pain and cold sensation. I describe them as “hammer headaches” because they come on like someone has just hit me with a hammer! Just, WHAM! over and over, then I get the cold sensation and naseau. Any light or sound about kills me after this. I live in a very windy area and the wind makes my headaches MUCH worse.. On very windy days, my headaches are sooooooo severe, I can barely think; let alone function. NO doctors can figure it out or have been able to give me anything to combat them. Just dark room and rest. That is the only thing I am told… It is SOOOOOO frustrating!

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