When you’ve got a scorching headache, your first instinct might be to head to Google to search your symptoms. More often than not, you’ll come across the worst possible scenarios like cancer or brain tumor when in reality, your headache is due to dehydration or not enough sleep. However, there are some circumstances when you should worry about your headache and seek medical attention at your earliest convenience. Find out when you should worry about a headache.

woman sitting on her couch suffering from a headache

Headache Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

One way to determine if your headache is serious and you should worry is if you have any other major symptoms or unusual symptoms. These other symptoms can indicate that your headache is a sign of a serious condition that needs immediate treatment. If you notice any of the following symptoms, consider seeking medical attention at your earliest convenience.

  • Pain that wakes you from sleeping
  • Pressure in the back of your head
  • Fever higher than 102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Nosebleed
  • Thunderclap headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that gets worse with changed positions
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Auras or face tingling that lasts longer than an hour
  • Weakness on one side of your body
  • Garbled or slurred speech
  • Stiff neck with fever
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Hearing problems
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Painful area or tenderness in one spot on your head
  • Swelling on head or face
  • Injury or bump on the head
  • Animal bite
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pain that begins after sneezing, coughing, or exertion

If you experience any of these symptoms, they might indicate a serious or underlying condition that requires medical attention.

Causes of Serious Headaches

It’s normal to experience a headache from dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, drinking alcohol, muscle tension, lack of sleep, a toothache, or hormonal changes. However, if your headache is severe and debilitating, it is not normal. Chronic migraines and headaches can have serious causes including the following.

  • Tooth or gum infection
  • Heatstroke
  • Head injury
  • Concussion
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Preeclampsia
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Brain tumor
  • Cancer
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Capnocytophaga infection from dog or cat bite

Without treatment, your condition can worsen and your pain can increase. If you suspect your migraine is not normal or you’re in chronic pain, don’t hesitate to make a visit to the doctor to be safe.

When You Should Visit the ER

In some cases, your headache or migraine might be so severe that you need to visit the ER to get relief. If you suspect you’re having a stroke, this is a strong indicator that you should call 911. Signs of a stroke include face drooping on one side, not being able to raise both arms over your head, or slurred or strange-sounding speech. It’s important to get to a doctor within 3 hours of a stroke to ensure a better recovery.

If you hit your head really hard or suffer a head injury, you might have a concussion. In this case, you should also visit the ER as soon as possible. Signs of a concussion outside of a headache include dizziness, drowsiness, balance problems, blurred vision, and feeling sluggish.

Another major sign you should visit the ER because of your headache is if you think you’re having a heatstroke. If you suspect a heat stroke, move to shade or an air-conditioned space and cool down by drinking water, getting into cool water, or putting on wet clothes. Heatstroke symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, dry skin, red or pale skin, difficulty walking, fast heart rate, fast breathing, and seizures or fainting.

The last reason you should visit the ER due to a severe headache is if you’re pregnant in your third trimester. A severe headache and nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, burning pain in your chest, difficulty breathing, and blurred vision or flashing spots in your vision can indicate preeclampsia which can cause death to both mother and baby.

You should also visit the ER for your headache if it feels so severe that you can’t function. If it feels life-threatening, never hesitate to call 911. If you suffer from frequent migraines though and suffer from other symptoms listed previously, a regular visit to your doctor can help you pinpoint your problem.

When You Should Visit a Dentist For Your Migraine

On the other hand, if you suffer from frequent migraines and headaches and you don’t suffer from any of the other symptoms listed previously, it might be something else causing your headaches. Temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition in your jaw joints that occurs when there’s an imbalance in the jaw joints. This imbalance then causes the muscles in your jaw and face to become strained and cause severe headaches and migraines.

Other symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Clicking and popping jaws
  • Lockjaw
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Neck and back pain
  • Worn teeth
  • Clenching and grinding

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, your headaches and migraines are likely from TMJ and will require treatment from your TMJ dentist in Troy, MI at Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness. Contact our dental office today to book a consultation with Dr. Haddad. Relief from your frequent headaches and migraines is just around the corner.