If you’re like most people, you get the occasional headache brought on by stress, eye strain — even caffeine withdrawal.
But some people have extremely painful or frequent headaches, such as migraines, that interfere with daily life. These headaches can be worrisome because sometimes headaches are a symptom of more serious medical problems, including stroke, brain tumors or an infectious disease, such as meningitis. Headaches can also be a sign of concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury.
So when should you be concerned?
“The location and quality of pain can be clues to the type of headache you are experiencing and can help to indicate whether you should seek medical attention,” says Madhu Soni, MD, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center.
According to Soni, see your doctor if you experience changes in your headaches, such as the location or type of pain, changes in accompanying symptoms, or any of the following:
Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following:
The location and quality of pain can be clues to the type of headache you are experiencing and can help to indicate whether you should seek medical attention.
Fortunately, less than one percent of all headaches indicate a life-threatening problem. But if you find yourself taking pain medication more than twice a week or canceling plans because of headaches, don’t ignore them. Your doctor can help you get relief and, just as important, give you peace of mind.
Sign up now for free health tips and medical news.