A headache is a common complaint and, while annoying, is often short-lived. But sometimes, a headache indicates the presence of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.
Headaches are categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary headaches are caused by dysfunction or overactivity of pain-sensitive nerves in the head, whereas secondary headaches present as a symptom of something else. It’s important to know the difference and when to seek medical attention.
Several lifestyle factors can contribute to primary headaches, including poor posture, skipping meals, consuming alcohol, eating processed foods, and lack of or changes in sleep. Some people are more prone to primary headaches because of their genetic makeup. The types of primary headaches include:
- Migraines – Migraines involve pulsing or severe throbbing pain, typically on one side of your head. You may also experience light sensitivity, nausea, or vomiting.
- Cluster headaches – Cluster headaches are the most painful kind of primary headache. They often occur in a pattern, with an onslaught during cluster periods. Cluster headaches may last for a week or months and may be followed by a break before they reappear.
- Tension headaches – Tension headaches cause a mild to moderate pain in your head and create a restricting condition around your skull, almost like a tight band is wrapped around it.
- Chronic daily headaches – Chronic daily headaches frequently occur, usually at least 15 days per month for at least six months.
A headache is referred to as secondary when another condition causes it. Secondary headaches can point to a variety of conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Sinus infections
- Brain injuries, such as a concussion
- Stroke or brain aneurysm
If the following symptoms accompany your headache, you most likely have a secondary headache:
- You have weakness on one side of your body or have trouble walking.
- Your headache is brought on by exercise or any exertion.
- It’s the most painful headache or the first headache you’ve ever experienced.
- It comes with no warning, and the pain pattern changes frequently.
There are several types of secondary headaches:
- Thunderclap headaches: Thunderclap headaches are sudden, excruciating headaches that come on as fast as a clap of thunder.
- Rebound headaches: Rebound headaches are caused by the regular, long-term pain medication used to treat headaches.
- Sinus headaches: Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinus cavity.
- Spinal headaches: Spinal headaches occur when the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain leaks out of the meninges.
When to seek medical assistance
Don’t let your suffering go undiagnosed or untreated. While most headaches are no cause for worry, some headaches may indicate the presence of a serious condition. Should your headaches become painful or debilitating, jolt you awake from sleep, or change in pain patterns, you need to seek medical treatment. Don’t delay medical care if any of the following symptoms accompany your headache:
- Sudden onset of Weakness
- Sudden onset of Numbness
- Difficulty speaking
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Change in vision, double vision, loss of vision
- Sensitivity to light, sound, smell
- Inability to walk
- Weakness or numbness of the face
Headache as a symptom of COVID-19
A persistent headache can be a symptom of the coronavirus, especially when it comes to trouble breathing, fever, chills, nausea, and diarrhea. If you feel this is the reason for your headache, Community First ER offers rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing onsite.
We’re here for you
If you’re experiencing severe headaches, our team of medical professionals at Community First ER will help you get to the root of the problem. We will conduct a thorough exam to treat your headache and determine its cause.
No appointment is required, and we are open 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s no need to call ahead. You will experience no wait times and receive prompt and compassionate care.
Don’t let COVID-19 stop you
A severe headache can be debilitating or signal a serious underlying condition. Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 prevent you from receiving the medical care you need. Community First ER maintains strict infection prevention measures and precautions above and beyond what is recommended by health officials so that you can experience peace of mind at our facility. Our coronavirus prevention measures include mask-wearing, checking temperatures upon arrival, regular disinfecting, and creating social distance between patients.
Our commitment to you
At Community First ER, we are committed to providing you the best possible care now and always. We have both adult and pediatric emergency care available. We have a team of medical and surgical specialists that we consult with to help manage our patients and their medical emergencies. We form relationships with local doctors to ensure that our patients have access to the best specialists for their individual needs.
About Community First Emergency Room
Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first.
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Photo edit based on (Photo Vadimgozhda/Dreamstime.com)