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It starts with feeling a bit foggy, and then the throbbing pain sets in. Another headache. If you suffer from migraines or regular headaches, then you may brush it off and pop an over the counter remedy to get you through the day. However, there are times when headaches are more than headaches. This is why, if you struggle, it’s important to learn the causes of headaches, as well as warning signs that a headache is actually something more serious.

Types of Headaches

Primary headachesare common headaches that happen periodically, approximately once or twice a month, and they disappear without any further complications. Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are the main types of primary headaches.

  • Migraines can feel very serious. Extreme sensitivity to light and sound are key symptoms of migraines. Sufferers can sometimes battle with a migraine for up to 72 hours. Certain triggers such as hormonal or even weather changes, can result in migraines. A migraine can also cause visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
  • Tension headaches have no specific known cause but are largely attributed to strain or tenseness in the muscles of the head and neck. Extreme stress can be a common complaint amongst tension headache sufferers. Doctors have noted that tension headaches seem to be more common among female patients.
  • Cluster headachesfeel like the pain is concentrated to one area of the head. They usually come on very suddenly. Cluster headaches feel like the pain is mostly just on one side of the head and can result in watery eyes and nose.

Secondary headaches, however, can sometimes be related to a deeper underlying health cause. These headaches are usually attributed to sinus or upper respiratory infections or a neck injury. Past injuries resulting in disc herniation in the neck can trigger severe headaches in later years. These headaches are more common in adults over the age of 50. While these secondary headaches are usually related to manageable conditions, there are times when a headache is a sign of a life threatening condition. Stroke, brain aneurysm, and hematomas of the brain can also be a cause of a very severe headache. Below are some warning signs to be aware of.

Warning Signs

Secondary headaches can sometimes be something more serious and there are certain symptoms that should serve as red flags.

  • You have a headache that results in vision loss of any kind and experience pain with chewing or weight loss.
  • In 24 hours your headache has gotten much worse.
  • You have redness in one eye and severe pain concentrated to that area.
  • You have recently sustained a head injury and then get a severe, persistent headache.
  • A headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, and vomiting is serious.
  • If you experience loss of control in limbs, slurred speech, impaired vision, inability to remember things or comprehend surroundings; seek medical attention immediately.
  • If you are older than 50 and you just started getting bad headaches regularly, this is of concern.

Education is key when it comes to unclear conditions like headaches. Rest assured your headache is most likely a nagging pain that will fade away soon, but be aware of the warning signs. If you frequently experience headaches of any kind it is a good idea to see your physician to rule out any underlying conditions.

A man in a tension