Headaches are extremely common. Many people get a headache on a regular basis, with about 20 percent of people experiencing a headache every day. Though painful, most headaches are not serious. But sometimes a headache can be a sign of a life-threatening condition that needs urgent medical care. Recognising a medical emergency and getting help quickly is important in creative health. Learn below about the headache symptoms that show you need to seek immediate help.
Sudden Severe Headache
A sudden severe headache that is the worst you have ever experienced, could be due to bleeding in your brain. Sometimes this happens after exercise, sometimes after trauma to the head, or sometimes without any known external cause. Often the internal cause is a leaking aneurysm.
The skull is a rigid structure, and bleeding in the brain increases the pressure within the head. The increase in pressure causes severe pain. It may also cause one or more of: vomiting; sleepiness , mental confusion , seizures, or loss of consciousness; unequal pupil size; drooping of one or both eyelids; double vision; dizziness; and slurred speech. The patient may also have had a stiff neck prior to developing the headache.
One in five people with this medical emergency die, and others may be left with injuries similar to a severe stroke. It is vital to call an ambulance and get to thre emergency room as quickly as possible, where the bleeding can be stopped with surgery or drugs. It is important not to take asprin to dull the pain as this thins the blood and will make the bleeding worse.
Headache With Stiff Neck and Fever
Headache with a stiff neck and a fever may be due to meningitis. This is an infection of the meninges which cover the brain and the spinal cord. The neck may be so stiff that there is difficulty in bending the chin to the chest. Old people and young children may only have a headache and fever, and not have a stiff neck.
Meningitis can progress very quickly. The patient may die within 36 to 48 hours if untreated. So again, get to the Emergency Room quicky. Likely they will do a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to identify the bacteria causing the infection, and will start treatment immediatly.
Headaches that Recur and Worsen Over Time
A headache that recurs and gets worse over time, may be due to brain tumour. There may also be weakness, visual changes, loss of feeling in part of the body, or seizures.
If you have had a recurring headache that is getting worse over time, and that may be accompanied by seizures, see your doctor as soon as possible.
These are three situations in which headache symptoms require you to seek immediate help. Prompt medical assessment and treatment can save lives, and also increase the quality of life by preventing some of the damage to the cells.
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