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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.