Many of us suffer the occasional headache. But when does a headache become something more serious? The majority of aches are harmless. These include sinus headaches, tension headaches and migraines. Some may be enough to put you in bed all day, but can be alleviated with painkillers and will go away in due time. Other headaches may not be so easily curable and could be the sign of something serious like a stroke or tumor. Here are few times when you should be concerned.
You’ve recently had a head injury and the pain is getting worse
A headache after a head injury is not uncommon. Such pain usually subsides within a few days. Sometimes pain may take months to disappear. You should worry only if a headache is gradually getting more painful after a head injury. There is a possibility that it could be a blood clot, which you’ll want to get checked out immediately before it grows.
You feel disorientated and confused
Most headaches may be painful and affect concentration, but are unlikely to make you feel disorientated or confused. Confusion may be a sign of concussion. It could also be an indicator of other serious problems. Other warning signs to look out for include dizziness and random changes in your personality (this may be something that other people spot).
The headache is sudden and intense with no build-up
An intense headache that suddenly appears out of nowhere could be the sign of something serious such as a stroke. This could be especially the case if the headache is painful enough to wake you up. Strokes require immediate medical attention – you should phone emergency services as soon as possible to get a stroke diagnosed. You don’t have to travel to a hospital and may be able to get a diagnosis on the phone.
The pain is accompanied by vomiting in the morning
A headache first thing in the morning accompanied by vomiting could be a sign of all manner of things from pregnancy to labyrinthitis to carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s unlikely to be a regular headache, so it’s worth seeing a doctor to get a diagnosis.
The headache has been constant for days and won’t go away – even with medication
An ongoing headache can be due to a number of factors. Some people can have headaches lasting months and years after head injuries. Such chronic pain can be debilitating, and regular medication may be effective enough to relieve this pain. You should consider seeing a doctor just to determine if there are any other factors contributing to the pain or if there’s any stronger medication that they can prescribe. Some headaches such as migraines may last days and then go away naturally. Migraines can develop at any time in a person’s life so don’t disregard them purely on the basis that you’ve never had a migraine before.