Headaches are extremely common and occur for a multitude of reasons. The majority of the time, they are harmless. Many headaches are relatively mild and dissipate quickly. Stress can lead to a tension headache. Staring at a screen too long can cause a headache. Not drinking enough water can cause a headache. With so many normal reasons that a headache might happen, we may not realize that it could be severe. The pain in your head may sometimes be an indicator of something more deadly. Dr. Yashar is a top neurosurgeon in Los Angeles who can help you discern the difference between a normal headache and a potentially dangerous headache. Can headaches be deadly?
Why do I get Headaches?
This is a loaded question because there are so many different triggers for a headache. There are two classifications of headaches.
The first type is a primary headache. This is the type of headache that is the condition and the symptom. The headache is not caused by an exterior force and is due to pain sensitivity in the brain. It is a stand-alone condition, and the most commonly known form of a primary headache is a migraine. Chronic migraines are not an indicator of a more severe condition because the migraine is the condition.
The second type is a secondary headache. These are the headaches that are caused by external forces. Secondary headaches are the symptom of another underlying problem. These problems can be mild in nature, such as stress, a hangover, brain freeze, and dehydration. There can also be more serious conditions that can cause a secondary headache, like blood clots, concussions, stroke, and brain tumors.
When Should I Call a Doctor?
With so many causes for headaches, when do you know it’s time to seek medical attention? Can headaches be deadly? The most straightforward answer would be the severity of the headache. If it’s extremely painful, there’s probably something wrong. These conditions can be time-sensitive, so your life could literally depend on when you decide to see a doctor. Here are some of the signs to look for that indicate a larger problem:
- A severe headache immediately after, or during, intense physical activity
- A headache accompanied by dizziness, blurry vision, numbness, paralysis, loss of cognitive abilities, mental confusion, or seizures
- An intense headache randomly, especially if it feels unbearable (known as a thunderclap headache)
- Nausea, vomiting, or fever associated with headache
- A headache that lasts over two days
- A headache that continues to get worse over a long period of time
- Observable redness around an eye where the headache epicenter is
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s extremely important to seek medical help immediately. Dr. Yashar is an expert brain and spine specialist that can help you decipher any headaches you suffer from. The most important thing to remember is that intense pain can mean an intense problem.
Can Headaches be Deadly?
Your headache may be caused by a blood vessel rupture or bleeding in your brain. This is a very serious problem, and can be caused by the following conditions:
- Experiencing a stroke
- Brain aneurysm
- A hematoma, where blood is around or in the brain
- A condition called arteriovenous malformation, which is a problem that usually happens at birth
There are some other serious medical conditions that can symptomize as intense headaches. They are:
- A brain abscess or brain tumor
- Fatally high blood pressure
- Brain swelling, or pressure buildup in the brain
- Any artery swelling or closure that supplies blood to the brain
With nearly half of the worldwide population predicted to experience some type of headache each year, it is definitely a common occurrence. Since the chances are you will feel a headache too, it’s good to know how to differentiate between a common one and a deadly one.