Headaches are a real pain

3d9381e27d1edaec8f92af6135712dff

How do I know if my headache is a health emergency or if I’m just suffering from too much stress?

Headaches are a common source of daily pain and discomfort for millions. The most common causes include fever due to infection, tension headaches due to stress and migraines caused by changes in blood flow in the brain. Other, more ominous, causes of headaches include bleeding due to ruptured blood vessels called aneurysms, strokes or meningitis.

Tension headaches are caused by spasm or inflammation of the muscles in the scalp and neck. These headaches are typically of gradual onset, limited duration and are more annoying than disabling. Tension headaches are usually not accompanied by other systemic symptoms such as fever, weakness, numbness, blurry vision or nausea and vomiting.

Headaches due to various illnesses may be caused by a sinus or dental infection, the fever of a cold or flu or, of greater concern, meningitis. Meningitis is a viral or bacterial infection of the lining and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The headache of meningitis is usually severe, gets rapidly worse and is accompanied by fever, neck stiffness and a toxic appearance. If you suspect your headache may be due to this potentially life-threatening infection, see your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.

A migraine headache is typically accompanied by other symptoms that may include nausea, a pounding sensation in the head or an aura (warning sensation) such as vision disturbances that may precede the headache. Migraines can be triggered by factors including food sensitivities, menstrual cycle hormonal changes, alcohol and lack of sleep.

The sudden onset of the worst headache of your life should be evaluated by a physician immediately. These symptoms typically signal a ruptured aneurysm, a potentially fatal leaking artery in the brain.
Most headaches are caused by benign conditions and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. The new onset of a headache that is different or worse than usual for you, or accompanied by symptoms that prevent you from going about your daily life, should be evaluated by a doctor sooner rather than later.

– Mark Melrose, DO, is a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him your questions at askdrmark@metro.us.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."