When Should I Be Concerned About Headaches

A headache can be painful or even debilitating but in general they are not cause for concern. Most headaches are not caused by health conditions or serious problems.
However, in some instances a headache can signify something is not right. This article will examine the signs and symptoms to be aware of so that people can better know when a headache is a concern.

Headache Symptoms to be Concerned About

Typically, a headache will cause pain in the neck, face, or head. Should the pain be severe, unusual, or accompanied by other symptoms, urgent medical attention should be sought as this could signify an underlying health condition or illness.

If any of the following are experienced, it could signify the headache pain is serious:
* Sudden, intense pain (Thunderclap headaches)
* Sharp or severe headache for the first time
* Neck stiffness
* A fever over 102°F
* Nausea
* Vomiting
* A nosebleed
* Fainting
* Loss of balance or dizziness
* Pain that interferes with sleep or wakes you up
* Blurred or double vision
* Facial tingling and auras (light around objects) lasting an hour or more
* Confusion
* Trouble understanding speech
* Facial sagging or droopiness on one side
* Lateral body weakness
* Difficulty speaking
* Trouble with coordination and walking
* Hearing issues
* Joint or muscle pain
* Pain that occurs after sneezing, coughing, or exertion of any type
* Constant pain isolated to one area of the head
* Seizures
* Night sweats
* Unexplained weight loss
* Head or facial swelling
* Was caused by head trauma or an animal bite on the body

Serious Headache Causes

The garden-variety headache is typically caused by muscle tension, dehydration, fever, nerve pain, drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, or caffeine withdrawal. Headaches can also result from hormonal changes, toothaches, pregnancy, or be a side effect of medicine.
The onset of migraine pain can be without warning, be severe, and debilitating. Patients with chronic migraines should consult their doctor for treatment aimed at managing pain and preventing future occurrences.

Headaches could also signal a serious health problem or illness, including:
* Severe dehydration
* Gum or tooth infection or abscess
* Elevated blood pressure
* Heatstroke
* Stroke
* A concussion
* Meningococcal disease
* Preeclampsia
* Cancer
* Brain tumor
* Brain aneurysm
* Capnocytophaga infection (often from a dog or cat bite)

When is it an Emergency?

Call 911 if it is suspected that you or someone else is experiencing head pain due to a medical emergency. Amongst the life-threatening situations that cause headaches and require immediate attention are:

* Strokes: Roughly 87% of strokes occur due to the blockage of blood flow in the brain. Strokes are treatable if prompt medical attention is sought. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T if a stroke is suspected:
* Face: Does one side of the face droop when trying to smile?
* Arms: Can both arms be raised above their head?
* Speech: Is speech slurred or sound strange?
* Time: If signs are noticed, act fast as treatment within 3 hours boosts the odds of recovery

* Concussions: If head trauma occurs, a concussion or mild brain injury could result. Should trauma be accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, or blurred vision, contact 911 promptly.


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