Signs You Should Worry About Your Headache or Migraine Attack


Headache can be a tricky health issue. Both severe headache and migraine are very common — affecting approximately 21 percent of women and 10 percent of men in the United States, according to research. While most are usually benign, meaning they cause no lasting medical problems, on rare occasions headaches can be associated with a life-threatening health crisis.

How do you know when to be concerned about your headache? What signs can help you distinguish between an ordinary headache caused by stress, one occurring as part of a migraine attack, and one caused by something much more serious, such as a stroke or a brain tumor?

Recognizing Headaches With Dangerous Causes

One clue that a headache is a sign of something serious is when it’s significantly worse than the headaches you usually get. Another clue is when the headache is accompanied by other symptoms that are new to you.

“When the headache is the worst headache of your life, or when it is accompanied by fever, neck stiffness, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, loss of consciousness, confusion, loss of vision, or any other neurological symptom, it’s serious,” says Alexander Mauskop, MD, the founder and director of the New York Headache Center and a professor of neurology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.


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