Most people I know have headaches. How do I know what is normal and what is not?


Any kind of pain that you feel is your body’s way of warning you about an injury or illness. Although headaches are rarely the symptoms of a serious illness, occasionally they may indicate a serious medical condition such as a tumor or aneurysm (blood vessel rupture). It is important for you to become familiar with your personal headache symptoms, and those that require immediate medical attention.

These headache symptoms should prompt you to seek immediate medical care for yourself or a loved one:

  • A sudden, new, severe headache
  • A headache that is associated with symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, paralysis, speech difficulties, mental confusion, seizures, personality changes/inappropriate behavior, or vision changes (blurry vision, double vision, or blind spots)
  • Headache with a fever, shortness of breath, stiff neck or rash
  • Headache pain that awakens you at night, with severe vomiting, or occurring after a head injury or accident
  • Getting a new type of headache after age 55

Contact your health care provider if you or a loved one has any of the following symptoms:

  • Three or more headaches per week, or they keep getting worse and won’t go away
  • Need to take a pain reliever every day or almost every day for your headaches
  • Need more than 2-3 doses of over-the-counter medications per week to relieve headache symptoms
  • Headaches that are triggered by exertion, coughing, bending, or strenuous activity
  • A history of headaches, but have also noticed a recent change in your headache symptoms

All My Best,
Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

July 23, 2013 at 2:09pm