When To Worry About A Headache

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Is it a migraine?
When is a headache a sign of something more? She is hoping to get answers soon. Pexels photo, CC0.

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

Are you worried your constant headaches are a sign of something more serious? 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.

Certain headaches, such as migraines, can last for 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.

17 COMMENTS

  1. You won’t believe this, Christy. I just spent the last two hours laying down trying to ease a terrible headache. I’m pretty sure it was a migraine since I used to get them often when I was younger. This was a doozy. Unfortunately, I can’t take anything as I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Monday…oh joy. Thanks for this!

  2. Ever since my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor headaches have worried me. Your article is a great way for me to double check my symptoms and relieve my anxiety! Thanks😊

  3. Old headaches are usually benign. By old headaches, I mean headaches of long standing duration. Most of those tend to be migraine or tension-type, cervicogenic headache or more rarely, cluster headache which is less common.

  4. I totally relate to this. I experience migraines. They were so bad a few yeras ago…I used to faint from the pain. But I am on a regular medication now and I am much better.😊 It’s important to consult a doctor and avoid the trigger factors.
    Loved this post❤😊

  5. Such an important topic, especially as we often have to fight with medical “professionals” about things like this because they so easily get fobbed off. Great post! x

  6. Really good to bring this to our attention, Christy. My recent strange little pain in my face turned out to be a sinus infection that the doctor proscribed Flonase for. It is working.

  7. I JUST HAD TO READ THIS!
    Headaches are scary to me, because I never had them. Now… what’s going on?
    I have continuing appts. with my doctor, dentist, and finally the opthamologist to try to get to the bottom of this issue. Thanks, Christy!

  8. Hi Christy…
    As you know I have suffered with migraines for years and yes I do have medication and a standing order for Morphine should they get so bad. I have kept a detailed log of when they appear and the change in Barometric Pressure is the culprit for me. Magnesium if taken on a daily bases I have found reduces them to bearable… great article as always.

    Hugs and all

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