When to Call the Doctor for Your Headache?

Almost everyone must have experienced a headache at some point in their life.
Almost everyone must have experienced a headache at some point in their life.

You should call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room for your headache if

  • This is the severe and worst headache you have ever had in your life. 
  • The headache that develops immediately after activities such as coughing, sneezing aerobics, bending, or sex.
  • Your headache develops after coughing or sneezing.
  • You develop a sudden, explosive headache.
  • You experience constant headaches always in the same location.
  • Your speech becomes slurred.
  • You experience visual disturbances.
  • You feel weakness in your limbs.
  • You lose balance while walking.
  • You have memory loss.
  • Your headache worsens over 24 hours.
  • Your headache pain wakes you up at night.
  • You also have a fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Your headache occurs after a head injury.
  • Your headache happens only on one side with redness in that side’s eye.
  • You are experiencing new headaches after the age of 50 years.
  • You have headaches accompanied by vision problems, pain while chewing, or weight loss.
  • You had cancer in the past.
  • Your immune system is weakened by a disease (such as human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] infection).
  • Your headache intensifies by waking up in the morning or getting up from a lying position.

Schedule a visit to your doctor if

  • Your headaches disturb your sleep.
  • Your headache lasts more than a few days.
  • Your headaches are worse in the morning.
  • Your headaches have a changed pattern or intensity.
  • You have headaches often whose cause is unknown. 
  • You need to take a pain reliever at least twice a week.
  • You have headaches that interfere with your daily life.
  • Your headache causes visual changes.
  • Your headache causes personality or mood changes.
  • Your headache is associated with the inability to move a body part.

What type of headaches are dangerous?

Almost everyone must have experienced a headache at some point in their life.

The most common reasons for your headache are migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. Headache is also most often experienced in some common viral infections such as the flu or even in something as simple as the cold.

However, it should be remembered that some headaches are a sign of a more serious problem that will necessitate medical attention right away.

Dangerous disorders in which headache presents as one of the symptoms are as follows:

  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM): It is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that occur by birth.
  • Stroke: It is a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in certain areas of the brain resulting in weakness on one side of the body.
  • Brain aneurysm: It is weakening of the wall of a blood vessel that causes it to bulge.
  • Intracerebral hematoma: It is bleeding in the brain that results in the pooling of the blood.
  • Intracranial hematoma: It is a collection of the blood in the skull, most often as a result of head injury.
  • Bleeding around the brain: This can be in the form of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a subdural hematoma, or an epidural hematoma.
  • Acute hydrocephalus: It is a buildup of fluid in the skull that causes it to swell.
  • Pseudotumor cerebri: It is a buildup of pressure inside the skull that results in signs and symptoms similar to a tumor but is not a tumor.
  • Meningitis: It is an infection or inflammation in the tissue that surrounds the brain.
  • Encephalitis: It is an infection or inflammation in the brain.
  • Temporal arteritis: It is swelling of the arteries in the temple and behind the eye.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: It is a disorder involving irritation of the trigeminal nerve that connects the face and brain.
  • Chiari malformation: Occurring by birth, these are structural defects in the base of the skull and cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls balance).
  • Epilepsy: It is a brain disorder characterized by frequent, unpredictable seizures.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Brain tumor
  • Acute brain injury: It is due to trauma or toxic gas exposure.
  • Severe altitude sickness

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Medically Reviewed on 10/6/2020
References
Headaches - danger signs. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000424.htm

Headache “Red Flags”: When to See Your Doctor. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/headache-red-flags/

Headache. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800

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