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When to Worry About a Headache?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Almost everyone experiences a headache from time to time. In most cases, you can manage it with an over-the-counter pain reliever. In other cases, learning to relax and relieve tension can help get rid of the headache.

But, sometimes, a headache can be a sign of a serious health problem. You can associate different symptoms of headache:

That’s why it’s important to know when to worry about a headache. Don’t try to diagnose the problem. Go to the emergency room if you are experiencing a headache in the following cases:

  • the headache occurred with high body temperature and nausea;
  • if it comes on suddenly as if an explosive device has gone off in your head;
  • the pain is so severe that you may describe it as the worst you have ever had in your life;
  • headache associated with slurred speech, changes in vision, dizziness, confusion;
  • inability to move arms or legs on one side of the body.

This article will look at headache symptoms to worry about.


Headache Symptoms to Worry About 

headache symptoms to worry about

You have cause for concern if:

  • the headache is the first serious problem you’ve ever had. Especially if it limits your ability to function;
  • the headache started immediately after a head injury, after strenuous exercise;
  • the headache occurred on one side with one eye looking bloodshot;
  • over the age of 50, you suddenly start to get headaches that you have never had before;
  • the headache gets worse after 24 hours.

Headache is one of the most common symptoms encountered in medical practice. The concept of this term is quite a broad one. Since it includes all types of discomfort concentrated in the head area. At the same time, the degree of very bad headaches can vary dramatically.

In this regard, it is very important to know the symptomatology of the varieties of pathology. You should seek medical help from qualified specialists. Read below for more about different symptoms.


A Head Injury or Fall

This could be a sign of a concussion, which is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise.


A Stiff Neck or Fever

These symptoms could indicate meningitis. It is a serious bacterial infection that affects the brain and spinal cord. Other symptoms of a headache may include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and a rash. 


Weakness, Numbness, or Difficulty Speaking

These symptoms could show a stroke or other neurological condition. A stroke occurs because a blood clot or rupture of a blood vessel disrupts blood flow to the brain. Other neurological disorders may include multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor. Seek medical attention right away if you have these symptoms.


Worsening with Exertion or Physical Activity

This could indicate increased pressure within the brain, which requires immediate medical attention. Other symptoms of headaches for weeks may include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and confusion. Doctors call this condition – increased intracranial pressure. It can be due to several conditions, including a brain tumor or bleeding in the brain.


Interfering with Daily Activities or Sleep

Chronic headaches can significantly impact the quality of life. It may need evaluation by a healthcare provider. There are many types of chronic headaches, including:

Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medications, or referral to a headache specialist.


Vision Changes or Loss of Vision

These symptoms of headache could show a serious condition, such as glaucoma or optic neuritis. It needs prompt medical attention. Glaucoma is when pressure builds up inside the eye, damaging the optic nerve. Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, which can cause pain and vision loss.


TOP Causes of Serious Headaches

There are many reasons for frequent headaches. You should not look for the source of the pain yourself. We recommend consulting a neurologist. According to medical observations, the main causes of constant headaches are vascular diseases. These include:

  • vegetovascular dystonia;
  • hypertension;
  • ischemia;
  • subarachnoid hemorrhages.

causes of serious headaches

Stroke and other life-threatening conditions can cause headache symptoms to worry about. The cause of this unpleasant phenomenon may be many factors: 

  • stress;
  • depression;
  • some other diseases, such as migraine.


The pain can occur in any part of the head – on both sides of it or just in one area. It may be acute, throbbing, or dull and last from a few tens of minutes to several days. Dangerous headache, usually “pressing” or “bursting.” It develops against the background of increased intracranial pressure. It can be due to:

  • malignant or benign brain tumors;
  • craniocerebral trauma.

The exact causes of a headache depend on its variety. Below we will look at the most common ones.



Oddly enough, very bad headaches are one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. Coronavirus symptoms include loss of taste and smell, fatigue, coughing, and fever. Some patients also complain of diarrhea, eye irritation or redness, and sore throat.


Temporal Arteritis

This is an inflammatory process caused by the involvement of the large and middle arteries of the:

  • spine;
  • neck;
  • arms, and upper trunk;
  • the temporal and eye vessels. 


It can be due to:

  • attacks of viral infections on the immune system;
  • various injuries;
  • hypothermia;
  • uncontrolled medication, or alcoholism. 

Severe symptoms of headache manifest against depression, insomnia, and weight loss. Possible pain in the shoulder and neck area. It often develops in patients over the age of 50.


Altitude Sickness

It occurs due to a reduced supply of oxygen to the body. Most often, it affects climbers who do not use appropriate oxygen masks when climbing. You may feel discomfort on one side or all over the head.



Head pain is the most common symptom for patients with high intraocular pressure. Often the painful focus is on the side of the affected eye, with localization in the:

  • frontal;
  • supraorbital;
  • temporal regions. 

It is because of the constant tension of the muscle fibres.



Drinking alcohol in large quantities affects the liver, kidneys and causes headaches for weeks. The patient feels throbbing pain accompanied by poor general condition and nausea.


Effects of Carbon Monoxide

The presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in the air causes a noticeable headache. Even 0.08% of a dangerous concentration is enough to cause asphyxiation. The hazardous substance can result from:

  • severe forest fires;
  • prevalent use of carbon fuels.


Overuse of Medications

A fairly common type of pain most often results from not taking analgesics after using them for a long time. The headache symptoms to worry about are very similar to those of tension pain.


Dental Infection

The human head and oral cavity are directly connected. Thus, any negative processes in the mouth will get a corresponding pain signal. For example, deep tooth decay causes acute pain that can recoil into the head and even the ear.


Food Allergies

This type of pathology is seasonal. Besides pain in the head, the patient may feel burning sensations in the shoulders, neck, or torso. The degree of intensity of the headache will depend on the person’s allergic sensitivity. So you have to estimate your allergic symptoms to know when to worry about a headache.



An early sign of a tick bite is a very bad headache, which manifests within three weeks after the bite. Its intensity depends directly on the increase in:

  • body temperature;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • insomnia. 

In some cases, dizziness may follow this pain.


Head Trauma

Pain may appear as soon as a week after injury or as soon as it occurs. The intensity and duration of headaches depend on the severity of the injury. If your pain does not go within two days, it is that moment when to worry about a headache.


When Do You Need to See a Doctor? 

In most cases, there is no cause for concern. But sometimes headaches can say about dangerous conditions such as:


The following are reasons for concern and a visit to a neurologist or therapist:

  1. Pain does not go away and worsens over time.
  2. Pain occurs after a severe head injury.
  3. It appears suddenly during a change of posture, coughing, laughing, sneezing, or during physical activity.
  4. The pain is accompanied by weakness, impaired speech, confusion, memory loss, and drowsiness. These symptoms, combined with a headache, may indicate nervous system disease.
  5. Along with the symptoms of headache comes:
  • fever;
  • tightness in the muscles of the neck;
  • pain in the jaw when chewing;
  • vision problems;
  • pain in the scalp;
  • redness of the eye or sharp pain in the eye.


In some situations, even if the headache does not require an emergency call, it is still necessary to see a doctor. You should do so in the following cases:

  • the headache woke you up at night;
  • the severity of the pain worsens in the morning;
  • If you have had a headache for several days for no apparent reason, such as tension or dehydration.

Even if you have had a regular headache for weeks, contact your doctor. Especially if the pain pattern and intensity change. If you have frequent or severe headaches, getting help from a neurologist is best. The Lone Star Clinic can provide you with high-quality medical services. So, do not hesitate to turn to us.



  • How long is too long for a headache?

Generally, a headache that lasts more than four hours or is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. 

  • What if my headache is not going away?

If your headache is not going away despite taking over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider can help identify the underlying cause of your headache and recommend appropriate treatment options.

  • Is it normal to have a headache for 3 days?

No, it is not normal. While occasional headaches are common, a headache that lasts for three days can be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires medical attention.

  • What are the most dangerous headaches?

If your new headache has been tiring for a month or more, waking up at night, worsening in the morning, coughing or straining, you should see your doctor immediately. Such pain can be caused by a brain tumor and is often accompanied by mental disorders. A complete neurological examination is required, with a CT scan or MRI if necessary.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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