No one wants to be paranoid about headaches. If your only symptom is that you have a headache, and you’re able to take OTC painkillers in order to wait it out, then there is a very good chance that it’s just the same kind of tension headache most people get. Migraines can be a lot more stressful and painful to deal with, still, but most people wouldn’t consider them worth seeing the doctor for. However, there are some instances in which a headache might be a sign of something worth checking out. Here are a few to consider.
When it comes on immediately and painfully.
Some headaches can start to come on pretty quickly. If you have a migraine, then you might find that certain things can trigger them to start rising up to the surface. However, if you feel a headache that comes on immediately, rather than growing gradually, and is particularly painful for a short moment, then it could be what’s called a thunderclap headache. These are not always dangerous, but they can be linked to dangerous conditions such as hemorrhages in the brain. If you suspect a health issue of any kind, and if you experience this headache, it’s worth getting in touch with your doctor.
Symptoms of an infection.
One of the issues with headaches is that sometimes they are just a headache, but sometimes they are the spearhead of a range of symptoms that could point to other issues, but because the headache is the most prominent and noticeable symptom, we tend to ignore the others. If you start to experience other symptoms, such as a fever or nausea, it may well be an infection and it’s worth calling the doctor. If you get a blocked up nose, excessive mucus, a sore throat, or the like, it might be a sinus infection. These aren’t usually life-threatening but when not treated well they can become chronic sinusitis, which can be a much more bothersome condition.
You experience a loss of control, physically or mentally.
If a headache comes on particularly suddenly, you should keep an eye out for symptoms such as weakness in your limbs or even one of your limbs, any difficulty speaking, numbness in your face, difficulty walking, or even a feeling of brain fog or trouble organizing your thoughts. You might not notice these symptoms until after they have stopped, but they are clear signs of a stroke. Even if they go away entirely and you feel fine after, you should see a doctor as soon as you can. If you pass out, have a seizure, or are difficult to rouse for any period of time, you should seek emergency care.
Headaches can often easily be confused for other symptoms, or vice versa, and can come in tandem with a range of other health issues. If a headache feels out of the ordinary for you, isn’t going away with rest and water, or is particularly severe, it’s worth checking just to be safe.