By Laura Moss, Mother Nature Network
Harry Potter's headaches have finally been diagnosed - not by a healer at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, but by a regular old muggle doctor.
It seems the world's favorite boy wizard doesn't suffer from migraines as leading headache specialist Dr. Fred Sheftell suggested in 2007, but from nummular headaches. In the article "Harry Potter and the Curse of Headache," Sheftell diagnosed Harry with migraines, noting that the boy wizard didn't have headaches prior to the age of 11, a common age of onset for primary headache disorders. However, Sheftell acknowledged that Harry's attacks didn't quite meet all the criteria for migraines.
[Related: What exactly is a headache?]
Now, Dr. Matthew Robbins, an assistant professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says that Harry's intermittent stabbing head pains are nummular headaches. This type of headache has only recently been identified, and Robbins says that Harry's telling symptom is that every time his head hurts, the pain is localized to his lightning-bolt shaped scar.
But that's not the only evidence: Nummular headaches are often sparked by head injury, which just might include taking an Unforgiveable Curse to the head.
[Related: The science of Harry Potter]
Robbins has studied nummular headaches in many nonfictional patients, but in his article he notes that while a telling sign is the lesions that "have been described to occur in scalp regions of [nummular headache] patients, admittedly, none of these cutaneous lesions manifested in the shape of a lightning bolt."
Patients often consult many different doctors before their headaches are diagnosed, and it seems the "boy who lived" isn't an exception.
But why do doctors spend their time diagnosing fictional characters? They say it's a good way to educate the public about medical conditions and their symptoms.