When To Worry About A Headache: 5 Most concerning reasons

Headaches are widespread in the world with 7 billion people and usually cause much trouble. But do you know when to worry about a headache? Always keep in mind that they may be a warning sign for a life-threatening condition. With early precautions, you can save your life.

According to studies, around 0.5% to 4.5% of patients who visit an emergency center for non-traumatic causes do so for headaches.

Heres know when to worry about a headache:

Symptoms you should look for:

If the following symptoms appear, then you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible:

  • A severe headache that worsens over time and becomes terrible in seconds to minutes.
  • A headache that begins or intensifies when you change positions.
  • When someone coughs, sneezes, or strains themselves, they get a headache.
  • A chronic headache that won’t go away.
  • Fever, chills, night sweats, and abrupt weight loss are all indications of a headache.
  • A headache that starts even though the person has never had a headache or migraine before.
  • Considerable increase in headache frequency or a change in the characteristics of the headache.
  • Headaches followed by seizures. Seizures can be fatal too.

However, these are not the only symptoms you should experience. Some other symptoms and considerations call for emergency headache situations.

5 Most Concerning Reasons of Headaches:

The following are some medical emergency reasons for you to seek medical attention for your headache.

Brain Tumor:

When abnormal cells in the brain proliferate and divide in an uncontrollable manner, a brain tumor develops. The tumor’s existence can produce various symptoms, including headaches because the skull does not allow for extensive brain enlargement.

Headaches could indicate the progression of a brain tumor. Seizures are also a possibility for some persons.

The following are the brain tumor symptoms among persons who go to the emergency room for headaches:

  • Visual changes, convulsions, and a changed mental state.
  • Nauseousness, vomiting, dizziness, and falls.

Depending on where the tumor is located, the specific symptoms may differ.


The location of the tumor determines treatment and whether it has spread. Surgical removal, radiation, or chemotherapy may be used to reduce cancer.

Carbon mono-oxide poisoning:

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced when fuel is burned in a car or furnace.

According to the studies, an estimated 20,000 people visit the emergency room each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The attraction of carbon monoxide to cells is stronger than that of oxygen in the bloodstream. As a result, carbon monoxide molecules can take the place of oxygen, resulting in asphyxia and death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness \weakness
  • Nausea \vomiting \confusion
  • Chest discomfort

Some persons sleeping or who have consumed alcohol may not experience symptoms, which might increase the risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning.


When someone is exposed to carbon monoxide, they should get to fresh air and call for an emergency.

Carbon monoxide poisoning will be treated with oxygen and a medicine called methylene blue, administered through an intravenous (IV) line.


Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are the two most common types of stroke. When a blood clot lodges in an artery in the brain, it can cause an ischemic stroke.

Brain bleeding can lead to hemorrhagic strokes. A person can develop serious problems or die if a doctor fails to treat a stroke promptly. Anyone who has had a stroke should seek medical help right away. A hemorrhagic stroke is more likely than an ischemic stroke to induce headaches.

Additional signs and symptoms include:

  • Alterations in a person’s mental state due to facial sagging.
  • Speech changes, weakness, numbness on one side of the body weakness on one side of the body vomiting.

There are two options for medications to break up a clot and surgery to remove a lump or repair a broken blood artery.

Women in pregnancy should not ignore headaches as they can cause serious problems for themselves and their babies.

These conditions include:


In a report, this condition causes high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy greater than 140/90 mm Hg. Additionally, it can cause swelling and proteinuria.

Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which is a life-threatening condition. It can also cause HELLP syndrome. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet counts.

A woman can also experience preeclampsia in the immediate postpartum period.

As well as a headache, some symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Vision changes
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If pregnancy is at 37 weeks, a doctor may recommend delivering the baby.

Pregnancies that are not as far along may require frequent monitoring, bed rest, blood pressure treatments, and medications to help speed up fetal lung development to aid earlier delivery.


Eclampsia is a severe form of pregnancy hypertension that can cause convulsions or put a woman into a coma. It can endanger both the mother’s and the fetus’ lives. HELLP syndrome can also occur as a result of it.

Symptoms may include, in addition to a headache:

  • Seizures and a coma caused by excessive blood pressure

Treatment is necessary to avoid life-threatening consequences such as nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Two examples are taking medicines to regulate blood pressure and injecting magnesium sulfate via an IV line to reduce the risk of seizures.

Doctors could also try everything they can to deliver the baby. Suppose a woman receives an epidural or spinal anesthetic for pain management. In that case, she may develop a severe headache known as a post-dural puncture headache (PDPH) in the immediate postpartum period.


When to worry about a headache in a child?

Headaches are not that severe, but you should concern when a headache wakes your child from sleep, becomes more frequent, and changes your child’s personality.

What does a severe headache mean?

A severe headache can point towards severe issues like brain tumors and pregnancy issues.

What does a brain tumor headache feel like?

Patients describe it as pressure-type pain. Some patients even tell it is a sharp and stabbing pain.

Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with the top neurologists in Karachi.

Karan Vasita

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