How Do I Know If My Headache Is Serious – Medically reviewed by Deena Kuruvilla, MD – By Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA – Updated September 25, 2022
Migraine is an often lifelong neurological disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches, usually on one side of the head. Headache is a term used to describe a variety of different pain symptoms that come from different parts of the head.
How Do I Know If My Headache Is Serious
If you have pressure or pain in your head, it can be difficult to tell whether you are having a typical headache or a migraine attack.
Headaches: What To Know, When To Worry
It is important to distinguish migraines from other headache disorders and vice versa. It can mean faster relief with more targeted treatments based on the type of headache. It can also help prevent future headaches from occurring in the first place.
Headaches are uncomfortable pains in the head that can cause pressure and pain. They usually appear on both sides of the head and the pain can range from mild to severe. Some specific areas where headaches can occur are:
A typical headache usually lasts between 5 minutes and 4 hours. Some migraine attacks can last for days or even longer.
Cluster headaches are severe painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and occur in clusters. This means that you may experience cycles of headache attacks followed by headache-free periods. They are usually experienced behind or above the eye or in the temple.
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. They typically appear between the ages of 20 and 49, and people who are classified as male at birth are more likely to experience them than those who are classified as female at birth.
By race and ethnicity, most large epidemiological studies have been conducted on white people, and therefore less is known about other races or ethnicities.
Often confused with migraines, sinus headaches occur along with symptoms of a sinus infection, such as fever, stuffy nose, cough, congestion and facial pressure. A 2018 survey found that sinus infections affect about 11.6% of adults.
Injuries and illnesses can also lead to headaches. Before diagnosing a primary headache, doctors work on it
Common Foods And Drinks Can Trigger Migraine
A Chiari headache is caused by a congenital Chiari malformation. This extremely rare condition causes the skull to press against parts of the brain, often causing pain in the back of the head.
Is a life-threatening medical problem that can also lead to headaches. It can be caused by conditions such as:
A “thunderclap” headache is a very severe headache that develops in 60 seconds or less. It could be a symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. It can also be caused by an aneurysm, stroke or other injury.
. The incidence in the age group 18 years and older is 38 to 43 cases per 100,000 population per year.
Was This Headache Just A Migraine, Or Something Worse?
Migraine attacks are intense or severe and often have symptoms other than headache. Symptoms associated with migraine without aura include:
Compared to tension headaches or other types of headaches, migraine pain can be moderate to severe. Some people may experience migraines that are so severe that they seek treatment in an emergency.
Migraine attacks usually affect only one side of the head. However, it is possible to have a migraine episode that affects both sides of the head. Another difference is the quality of the pain. A migraine attack causes severe pain that can be throbbing and makes it very difficult to do everyday tasks.
Of adults in the United States have had an episode of migraine or severe headache in the past 3 months.
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Who examined the average prevalence of severe headache or migraine by race and ethnicity from 2005 to 2012 in the United States, found that episode prevalence rates were similar across groups:
Migraine attacks are usually divided into two categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura. An “aura” refers to sensations a person experiences before a migraine episode. The sensations typically appear between 10 and 30 minutes before a migraine attack. This may include:
For some migraineurs, the symptoms may appear a day or two before the actual migraine attack. These more subtle symptoms, known as the “prodrome” phase, may include:
People who experience migraine episodes report several factors associated with it. These are called migraine triggers and can include:
Cervicogenic Headache — North Queensland Physiotherapy Centre
Hormonal changes can trigger menstrual migraines that occur a few days before a period and in the first 1 to 2 days.
While research is ongoing, sleep appears to play a role in migraine prevention. A
One hypothesis is that the glymphatic system, a newly discovered waste-clearing system in the brain that is similar to the lymphatic system in the rest of the body, may be more active during sleep.
The glymphatic system helps remove toxins from the brain that build up during wakefulness. Although there is little evidence to support this claim, it is possible that sufficient sleep helps clear the brain and prevent migraine attacks.
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Poor sleep can contribute to headaches or make them worse. In one review, those who underwent behavioral sleep treatment for tension headaches reported a significant increase in
Because headaches and lack of sleep can be linked, it’s important to practice good sleep habits when you have headaches.
Because some headaches are stress-induced, taking steps to reduce stress can help relieve headaches and reduce the risk of future headaches. These include:
Prevention is often the best treatment for migraine attacks. Examples of preventive methods that a doctor may prescribe include:
What Is Cervicogenic Headache?
People who have fewer migraines may benefit from taking medications that are known to reduce migraines quickly. Examples of these drugs are:
If a person takes migraine medication as needed for more than 10 days a month, it can lead to medication overuse headache, also known as medication adjustment headache. This practice will make their headaches worse instead of helping them feel better.
Dehydration from not drinking enough water or losing too much fluid from the body can cause headaches in some people.
To avoid dehydration-related headaches, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially when it’s hot or you sweat a lot.
Types Of Headaches: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, And More
Migraine attacks and headaches share some common risk factors and causes, so headaches can turn into migraine attacks. Most tension headaches and general headaches are true migraine attacks.
Migraine attacks are not always severe and can begin mildly. If left untreated, they can progress and become more severe.
For example, stress can cause migraine attacks and tension headaches. If a person with tension headache suffers from severe stress or trauma, it can cause them to develop migraine characteristics such as a visual aura.
Migraine attacks are usually treated by a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system. A headache specialist can also treat migraines. If you experience frequent or severe migraine attacks, talk to a doctor about available treatment options.
When To Worry About A Headache: Location, Duration, And Type
Headaches can range from a mild discomfort to severe and debilitating. Identifying and treating a headache early can help a person undergo preventative treatments to minimize the chance of another headache.
It can be difficult to distinguish migraine attacks from other types of headache. Look for signs of an aura, especially before the headache starts, and inform a doctor about any other symptoms. The term headache disorder includes a number of disorders of the nervous system that cause painful symptoms in the head. Headache disorders include headaches and migraines. Most people experience headaches at some point in their lives.
Some people may have difficulty distinguishing between a migraine, which is a chronic condition, and a common headache.
There are many different types of headaches, which experts have divided into two main groups – primary and secondary.
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Primary headaches refer to unrelated conditions that cause pain in the head, face, or neck. Examples of primary headaches are migraines and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches occur as a result of another condition, such as an infection, stress or drug abuse.
Cluster headaches cause severe pain on one side of the head, often behind the eye. These headaches occur in clusters, meaning that several headaches occur around the same time each day for several weeks.
, cluster headaches usually last 6 to 12 weeks. Cluster headaches affect men more often than women.
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Hemicrania are persistent headaches that vary in severity. These headaches usually affect the same side of the head. People may have daily or chronic hemicrania headaches.
A migraine is a type of primary headache disorder that can cause severe pain and other symptoms. People with migraines may experience recurring symptoms that doctors call episodes or attacks.
Headaches are only one symptom of migraines and can vary in severity. Migraines can cause intense, throbbing headaches that last from a few hours to a few days.
A migraine headache usually affects one side of the head, but some people experience pain on both sides.
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Doctors also call the warning phase the pre-headache or the prodrome phase. It includes non-painful symptoms that occur hours or days before the onset of the headache.
Auras refer to sensory disturbances that occur before or during a migraine attack. Auras can affect how a person sees, touches or speaks.
Migraine headaches can range from mild to severe. People with severe migraine headaches may need to seek emergency medical treatment.
Physical activity and exposure to light, sounds and smells
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