Healthy Living

When is a Headache a Sign of Something More Serious?

Headache has been seen as a common occurrence in most of the individuals but the question arises as to when does headache tend to get serious or linked with any other serious form of medical condition.

Headache is a kind of pain or a discomforting feeling which occurs in the head or the face region. Headaches can vary greatly in terms of the location of the pain, what is the intensity of this pain and how frequently it occurs. Due to this variation there are several categories of headaches which have been created for precisely defining the specific type of headache.

Below are few of the warning signs which should prompt an individual to seek doctor’s attention as soon as possible.

  • Headache which is also accompanied by stiffness in the neck and fever can be a possible sign of meningitis. It is basically an inflammation of the membrane which surrounds the central nervous system. If this condition is not diagnosed or treated on a timely manner, then it can quickly turn out to be critical or life threatening to the individual. Bacteria or virus is known to commonly lead to cases of meningitis. But it can be also caused due to parasites, fungi or the non-infectious ones. Few of the common symptoms of meningitis would include stiffness in the neck, sudden fever occurrence, being extreme sensitive towards light, feeling of confusion, drowsiness, vomiting, seizure attacks, swelling in the pain or the joints, chills and fever.
  • Just nausea alone can be a common sign of migraine but severe case of nausea or vomiting can turn out to be one of the signs of haemorrhagic stroke. Strokes are divided into two different types, which are haemorrhagic and ischemic. The haemorrhagic stroke is seen as a less occurrence wherein only 15 percent of the strokes come under the haemorrhagic category but they are also said to be responsible for about 40 percent of the deaths caused due to strokes. A haemorrhagic stroke can be either a brain aneurysm burst or it can be a weak blood vessel leak. The blood tends to spill in or around the brain thereby leading to swelling as well as pressure causing damage to the tissues and the cells present in the brain. Haemorrhagic strokes are further divided into two types such as intracerebral haemorrhage and the second being subarachnoid haemorrhage. The intracerebral is the common stroke which occurs when the blood vessel present inside the brain bursts open and leaks the blood which is surrounding the brain tissues. This bleeding can also lead to the death of the brain cells as well as the affected portion of the brain would stop to work in a proper manner. Few of the common causes of intracerebral are high blood pressure and the blood vessels which are aging. On the other hand, the subarachnoid is known to involve bleeding in the region present in between the brain and the tissues which cover the brain also called as the subarachnoid space. This type of stroke is mostly known to cause due to a burst in the aneurysm. Few of the other causes would involve injury to head, use of blood thinner, AVM and certain kind of bleeding disorders.
  • Certain neurological symptoms such as having trouble in walking, blurry vision or loss of memory are all signs of brain tumour. The headaches caused due to brain tumour are often worse in the mornings and decrease throughout the day. It becomes very difficult to diagnose a brain tumour headache just based on the description of the headache. There are certain patients who may provide certain clues while presenting with seizure attacks or any kind of persistent neurological symptom. The most typical kind of brain tumour headaches would be aching in nature and something tension like. It tends to occur sporadically with a gradual start and resolves in few hours’ time. In certain cases, the headache can be quiet throbbing in nature which may also resemble migraine headaches. There have been certain reports which state that patients who were suffering from brain tumour had classical migraine like headaches which tend to progress gradually and worsen over a period of time such as few months’ time. Tumours are known to cause an obstruction in the cerebrospinal fluid flow which can also lead to cases of headaches. In an individual with a normal neurological examination and no other kind of complaints or symptoms wherein the one and only symptom of headache is known to be rarely linked with brain tumour. There are certain kind of specific type of features of headaches which have been notified as red flags and it may mostly suggest the presence of any structurally abnormality which can also include brain tumour. Few of those red flags would include, a change in the pattern of the previous headache, the headache is not responsive to any of the treatment carried out, new kind of motor weakness arises, there are certain other sensory or visual symptoms occurring, certain changes in the memory wherein there can be difficulty in remembering things, headache gets worse while bending over or while sneezing or coughing.

If you or anyone you are aware of is experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of anything serious. The headache symptoms would be dependent on the type of headache. The frequency of the occurrence of headache as well as the intensity of the symptoms can vary in certain cases.

Few of the symptoms which can signify that the headache is something serious are, vomiting along with nausea, headaches which occur in the early morning, sudden changes in the vision, changes in the personality of the individual, headache which does not respond to any treatment and in turn becomes more severe or continuous, the pain which tends to worsen by straining which can be coughing or sneezing, there is sudden weakness in the legs or arms. Hence do not ignore even headaches accompanied by above symptoms and reach out to the doctor for further diagnosis.