While headaches are incredibly common among all segments of the population, not all of them have simple and easy to understand causes. A normal tension headache or cluster headache might cause concern, but there are usually fairly simple ways to treat them medically, and many just go away on their own. People who suffer from chronic migraines may find treatment or even simple relief relatively difficult to find, but they are still usually manageable. Here are some things to look out for, should you have a headache due to a more serious problem.
Bleeding in the Brain
While not common, you should be aware that some headaches can be rooted in problems with your blood vessels, causing bleeding in your brain. These are emergency situations and must be treated immediately. Some headache causing concerns related to blood vessels can include:
- Clots in veins
- Bleeding in the brain (intracerebral hematoma) or bleeding around the brain (subdural hematoma)
- Stroke (blood flow stops to part of the brain)
- Aneurysm (weakened wall of a blood vessel that causes bleeding in the brain)
Any of these causes, while rare, are worth checking out, especially if the circumstances are unusual. If you have existing conditions that could cause alarm, be sure to track if this is a new or new type of headache – if your condition could cause it, it is worth getting checked out. Some other conditions that can cause a concerning headache are:
- High blood pressure
- A brain tumor
- Pressure buildup inside the skull that seems to be causes by a tumor, but is not
- Swelling of the brain (brain edema) that results from carbon monoxide poisoning, altitude sickness or an acute brain injury
- The arteries supplying blood to part of the head, neck or temple become inflamed and swollen (temporal arteritis)
- Brain infection, or infection of the tissue around the brain
- Brain abscess
When Should You Call a Doctor?
If you are suffering your first severe headache in your life, and the headache is interfering with your daily activities. Should you develop a headache after strenuous activities like aerobics, weightlifting, sex or jogging, this could also be a problem sign. Anything out of the ordinary is worth getting checked out. Other reasons to see a doctor for your headache can include:
- Your headache is the result of, or occurs after, a head injury
- Your headache worsening over a 24 hour period
- Your speech is slurred, your vision changes, your balance is off, or if you are confused or have lost memory
- You are experiencing headaches for the first time – especially important if this happens and you are over 50 years old
- You have a weakened immune system due to disease or illness
There are many other potential causes, but the easy answer is, if you aren’t sure, consult a doctor. If your sleep is interrupted by headaches in any way, or if your headache lasts for more than a few days, you should speak with a doctor as well.