Headaches: Most people get them at least once in awhile, and some people get them quite often.
Normally they go away, and no harm is done. However, if your headache shows any of these 8 signs, your headache could be more dangerous than you might think. You should consult a doctor if you show these signs!
1. A First Headache, Which is Disruptive with Vision Impairment
Giant cell arteritis (GCA), or temporal arteritis, is a disorder in which the arteries of your head, especially those running through your temples, become inflamed. If you’ve never had a headache before, but suddenly find yourself with an incredibly painful one that disrupts your daily routine, it could be a sign of GCA.
According to a 2008 study published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, if your headache is accompanied by visual disturbances, it could also be a sign of GCA. This headache is a throbbing, persistent headache which usually occurs in the upper neck, behind your eyes, or at the back of your head. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness and stroke, so please see a doctor if you think you have it!
2. Progressive Headache with One-Sided Numbness and Weakness
You heart pumps blood to your brain through your arteries, which the brain utilizes for basic functions. Once those functions are finished, the brain sends the blood back to the heart through channels called venous sinuses. These sinuses can be clogged, causing a condition called cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT). CVT can lead to an accumulation of blood and subsequent bleeding in and around the brain. This is very bad – it can cause strokes.
A persisting headache with symptoms which worsen over a few days (up to a week or more) could be CVT. A headache is the most common symptom of CVT, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. One of its defining characteristics is weakness and numbness on one side of the head, down to the shoulders and arms.
3. A Headache with a Stiff Neck
Meningitis can be a fatal disease, and is often accompanied by a headache with a shooting pain and a stiff neck. Ninety-five percent of meningitis patients reported a headache, stiff neck, fever and mental disorientation as the primary symptoms, according to a 2004 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
4. A Headache after Risky Sexual Behavior
If you have a headache following sex, be careful. Headaches are the primary and most persistent symptom of HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Additionally, secondary headaches like sinus headaches usually mean HIV that has progressed, damaging the immune system and allowing diseases to strike.
5. A Headache with Neck & Face Pain
You carotid arteries, which are found along the sides of your neck, can become torn. This allows blood inside and fills the space between the arteries. It separates them, an issue called carotid artery dissection (CAD). That blood then clots, and eventually this leads to a stroke. The common symptoms of CAD are sudden, intense headaches and neck pain.
6. Thunderclap Headache
A thunderclap headache is one that strikes suddenly like a lightning bolt, accompanied by intense pain within 60 seconds. They usually persist for up to an hour. Thunderclap headaches are a symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a potentially fatal condition which results in swollen brain arteries. Think “the worst headache of my life”. You may also be nauseous and even vomit.
7. Headaches During or After Sex
There are a few types of sexual headaches. You might experience one at the peak of sexual arousal, which is usually nothing to worry about. (But still see a doctor!) The next kind is a throbbing pain that happens close to when you orgasm. It could feel like the thunderclap headache you learned about – sudden and painful. This could be a sign of hemorrhage, stroke, or a tumor.
8. Headache After an Injury
A headache suffered within 10 days following an injury may be a concussion. While this isn’t normally fatal, it can be a huge pain to those who suffer from it – both physically and emotionally. You may experience loss of consciousness, memory loss, and impaired vision.
These 8 headaches are definitely cause for seeing a doctor. If you’re experiencing them now, or have just experienced them recently, go see your doctor right away!