How Do I Know if My Headache Is Serious?

Almost everyone has experienced at least one headache. It is an extremely common condition that can be caused by many different things. The pain from a headache can range from a mild discomfort to a completely debilitating attack.

While the majority of headaches aren’t a major concern, sometimes they can indicate a medical emergency. If you are wondering what types of headaches should prompt an immediate visit to see us, our staff at AFC Urgent Care Hixson explains all about the dangers of headaches below.

What Are the Different Types of Headaches?

Around 80 to 90% of headaches are considered primary headaches. “Primary headaches” are the result of overactivity within the pain-sensitive structures of the brain and don’t indicate an underlying issue. These headaches include migraines and tension headaches. While the pain can be intense, it doesn’t normally indicate a medical emergency.

Secondary headaches are less common but are more dangerous. Headaches that are symptoms of blood clots, brain tumors or strokes fall into this category. If you are suffering from any of these systemic signs below, it is crucial to come see us immediately.

Red Flags for Headaches

  • Sudden and severe pain
  • Pain accompanied by fever or stiff neck
  • Headaches after an injury or accident
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or paralysis on the body

How Is a Secondary Headache Diagnosed?

Once you are evaluated by a medical provider, you may receive an imaging test to investigate any serious issues like a blood clot. A CT scan or MRI can help distinguish if your headaches are related to an issue with the central nervous system.

If a serious issue is discovered during these tests, further testing, a hospital stay or a referral to a neurologist may be suggested. If your head pain is attributed to a primary cause like a migraine, tension or cluster headache, your medical provider will talk with you about making some lifestyle changes and potentially introducing medication to help slow the frequency of your headaches.

Helping a Primary Headache

  • Drink water.
  • Get plenty of rest in a quiet, dark room.
  • Take an OTC pain reliever.
  • Drink a small amount of caffeine.

Headaches are something to always take seriously. If you are experiencing symptoms of a secondary headache, come to AFC Urgent Care Hixson immediately.