Almost everyone has experienced headaches, and most of us have experienced them many times. A minor headache is just a nuisance relieved by an over-the-counter reliever, some food or coffee, or a little rest. But if your head is heavy or abnormal, you may be worried about a stroke, a tumor, or a blood clot. Fortunately, such problems are rare. However, you should know when the head needs urgent care and how to control most of the headaches that do not threaten your health.
What causes headaches?
Doctors do not fully understand what causes the most headaches. They know that brain tissue and skull will never be burdened because they do not have nerves to register pain. But the blood vessels in the head and neck can show pain, as well as the tissues around the brain and other large nerves from the brain. The skin, pains, teeth, muscles, and neck joints can also cause headaches.
When to worry about the headache
You can take care of many types of headaches on your own, and your doctor may prescribe medication to control most of your headaches. But some headaches require immediate medical attention.
Here are some warning signs when you need to worry about headaches:
- Headaches that begin to develop after the age of 50
- A major change in your headache pattern
- Unusual headache
- Growing headache with coughing or movement
- The worsening of the headache
- Changes in personality or mental functioning
- A headache associated with fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased awareness or memory, or sensory symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or fainting
- Headache associated with painful red eye
- Headaches accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
- Headache after a stroke
- Headaches that interfere with normal daily activities
- Sudden onset of headaches, especially if you wake up
- Headache in cancer patients or immune system dysfunction
The following are the symptoms and treatment options for migraine headaches.
The following sections describe some of the reasons related to emergencies a person may need to seek medical attention for a headache.
A brain tumor
A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells grow and divide in the brain. Because the skull does not allow for significant brain growth, the presence of a tumor can cause many symptoms, including headaches.
Headaches can represent the growth of a brain tumor. Some people also suffer from epilepsy.
Over the head, the most common symptoms of a brain tumor in people going to the emergency department are:
- a changed attitude
- visual changes
Certain symptoms may vary depending on the location of the plant.
Treatment depends on where the tumor is found and whether it has spread or not. Options may include surgical removal or radiation or chemotherapy to reduce the tumor.
High blood pressure problem
High blood pressure occurs when a person’s systolic blood pressure is above 180 mm in Mercury (mm Hg) or their diastolic blood pressure is above 120 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). A sudden or significant increase in blood pressure can cause headaches.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems, such as stroke, heart disease, pulmonary edema, or aortic dissection.
Headaches are a common disease when a person has high blood pressure, according to a long-term study in the American Journal of Hypertension. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, runny nose, and deep anxiety.
The doctor may recommend a person who is experiencing a high blood pressure emergency at the hospital. Treatment includes drugs such as beta-blockers, thiazide diuretics, angiotensin receptor blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzymes.
Meningitis is an infection of the outer layers of the brain. It can develop as a result of a previous infections in the inner ear, sinuses, or other parts of the body. Untreated meningitis treatment can lead to sepsis, a serious physical ailment that causes paralysis.
As well as headaches, the symptoms of meningitis include:
- stiff neck
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Chemical stroke can occur when a blood clot stays in a vessel in the brain. Heavy bleeding can occur as a result of bleeding in the brain.
If the doctor is not able to treat the stroke immediately, the person may become seriously disabled or die. Anyone suffering from a stroke needs immediate medical attention.
Some additional features include:
- changes in the state of the human mind
- weakness on one side of the body
- numbness on one side of the body
- speech changes
Treatment depends on the type of stroke. Options include taking anticoagulants and surgery to remove ice or repair a damaged blood vessel.
Women should not ignore headaches during pregnancy, as they may indicate a serious condition that could affect their health or that of their baby.
These situations include the following:
This is a condition that causes high blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can also cause inflammation and proteinuria, or the presence of protein in the urine, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Preeclampsia can progress to eclampsia, which is a life-threatening condition. It can also lead to a condition called HELLP syndrome. HELLP stands for hemolysis, high liver enzymes, and low platelet count.
As well as headaches, other symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- the view changes
- pain in the upper abdomen
If the pregnancy is 37 weeks or later, the doctor may recommend delivery. Extreme pregnancy may require constant monitoring, bed rest, blood pressure treatment, and medications to help accelerate fetal lung development to aid in early delivery.
How long before I should worry about a headache?
Chronic headaches, when a headache continually comes back for months, can be a cause for concern. Not only can they disrupt your daily life, but they can be unmanageable without medical help. If you notice you're having 2 or more headaches a week contact a neurological specialist.
What type of headaches are serious?
Migraine headaches are some of the hardest types of headaches to live with. They usually begin with an intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head, which may spread. They also often cause nausea and vomiting. A migraine can last a few hours to many days and can make people sensitive to lights, smells, and sounds.
Should I be worried if I've had a headache for 3 days?
Seek medical attention right away if you're experiencing: a severe headache that began abruptly (within a few seconds) a migraine that has lasted several days, or even weeks. any new symptoms you haven't previously experienced along with the headache (disorientation, loss of vision or vision changes, fatigue, or fever)