A headache can be mild or excruciating, but the degree of pain isn’t necessarily a sign of how serious it is.
“A headache may stem from a harmless problem, or it might be a sign of a life-threatening disorder,” says Dr. Ahmed Jafri, a neurologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “There are certain red flags that should send a person to the doctor, or even an emergency room.”
Anyone who frequently uses pain medication to self-treat chronic headaches should seek medical help, Dr. Jafri says.
However, any of these symptoms call for immediate emergency care:
• A change in the character or pattern of existing headaches;
• Explosive headaches;
• Pain that continues to increase in intensity;
• New headaches in children or seniors;
• “The worst headache of my life”; or
• Headache with exertion, coughing or sexual activity.
Dr. Jafri also says that a headache accompanied by fever and stiff neck, or visual impairment, or fainting, or paralysis anywhere on the body, or bloodshot eyes with tearing and a runny nose requires medical care.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in the neurosciences, including neurology.
June 6-12 is National Headache Awareness Week.
Media Contact: Aline McKenzie