Is My Headache Caused by Something More Concerning?

January 26, 2024
July 19, 2021
Is My Headache Caused by Something More Concerning?

While everyone has headaches on occasion, there are some symptoms that might indicate something more concerning.  Common headache types include migraine, tension headache, and cluster headache. Most people who experience these headaches have consistent symptoms that are reproducible over time.


There are certain “red-flag” symptoms that may be a cause for concern and require additional testing or treatment. Rare causes of headache such as brain tumors, blood vessel problems such as aneurysms, increasing pressure within the brain, and infections can all cause these types of symptoms and require evaluation in the emergency department or by your primary doctor. While these symptoms don’t always mean something more serious is going on, it is best to consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.


Below is a list of rare and uncommon symptoms that, if experienced, might require an urgent evaluation either in the emergency room or by your primary doctor.


  1. “Worst-headache of your life” – a sudden onset of a severe headache, often the worst headache of your life, is a sign of a possible blood vessel problem in your brain. This warrants immediate evaluation in the emergency department which should not be delayed. This can also sometimes be associated with eye problems such as double-vision or drowsiness.
  2. Headaches that are worse in the morning – if you develop a daily headache that is worse in the morning and gets better throughout the day, this could be a sign of something more concerning and may require a trip to your doctor for more testing.
  3. Headaches with fever and neck stiffness – this could be a sign of infections in the brain or covering of the brain such as meningitis.
  4. New neurological problem – if your headache is associated with weakness, seizures, language problems, vision changes, or drowsiness, this can be a sign that something more serious is going on and should be evaluated on an urgent basis.
  5. Anything that is concerning to you – this can be one of the most helpful symptoms to look for. As mentioned above, most people with headaches have common and consistent headache types which don’t change over time. If headaches are getting worse, or there are other symptoms that are concerning to you, these are symptoms that warrant further testing and evaluation by professionals to make sure that something more serious is not happening.

If you are looking to start a treatment for your migraine, try Neura Health and talk to the specialist about what might work best for you.

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Sumeet Vadera, MD, MBA, FAANS
Sumeet Vadera is an Associate Professor, Director of Epilepsy Surgery, and Associate Program Director of the Neurosurgery Department at University of California, Irvine
About the Author
Dr. Sumeet Vadera is a neurosurgeon and epilepsy surgery specialist in Orange County, CA. Dr. Vadera completed his medical school training at Jefferson Medical College, and neurosurgery residency and epilepsy surgery training at the Cleveland Clinic where he developed a passion for treating pain disorders including headache. Dr. Vadera has been named Top Doctor in Orange County and 40 Under 40 in Orange County, CA.

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