According to Dr. David Rabinovici, most headaches are not dangerous. However, a smaller percentage of headaches, especially migraines, might indicate severe health concerns, requiring medical intervention at once. Migraines can be frustrating. Additionally, experiencing an aura (sensory or visual impairment) with a severe headache can be dangerous. Migraines vary in different people. While the headache pain might be throbbing in some people, the pain might be dull or sharp in others. A migraine will affect a specific location, one half of your head or your entire head.
Types of migraines
There are various types of migraines going by different names. While some have accompanying neurological symptoms, others strike suddenly without warning signs. They include:
- Chronic migraine. Your healthcare provider will likely diagnose chronic migraine if the severe headache occurs for at least 2 weeks every month. However, the severity of the pain and the symptoms might change frequently. Chronic migraine victims might use headache-relieving medications more than 15 days monthly, resulting in frequent headaches.
- Retinal migraine. Also referred to as ocular migraine, retinal migraine happens when you experience partial or complete vision loss in either of your eyes, with a dull pain that might spread to other parts of your head. While the vision might last for seconds in some individuals, the loss might take months in others. Your doctor will advise you to seek professional assistance because retinal migraine might signify a severe underlying health concern.
- Status migrainosus. This type of migraine can be severe, lasting approximately 72 hours. Common causes of such migraines include particular medications and medication withdrawal.
- Migraine with brainstem aura. Unlike other migraines, this type onsets with vision loss, loss of balance, vertigo, and slurred speech. The pain that is most likely to affect the rear of your head might result in speech impairment, nausea, and a ringing sensation in your ears.
- Hemiplegic migraine. These migraines cause temporary paralysis or sensory changes on either side of your body, with symptoms like temporary numbness, muscle weakness, tingling sensation, and vision change.
When should you seek professional help with migraines?
Though headaches are common occurrences, a unique instant headache without a history of a similar pain can be worrying, a sign of something more severe than a typical headache. Your doctor will advise you not to hesitate to seek medical assistance when you have the following signs:
- Relenting pain from the back of your head, traveling down your neck
- Instant unexplained headache
- Neurological symptoms like the leg or arm numbness, seizures, or slurred speech
Common causes of headaches
Most headaches activate similar pain receptors. Thus, knowing whether the pain is a normal headache or something different might be challenging. Common causes of severe headaches include:
- Brain tumors. Primary tumors beginning from the brain are likely to result in migraines
- Aneurysms (ballooning blood vessels in your brain)
- Hemorrhagic stroke. It mostly happens when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds in your brain.
- Meningitis (a viral or bacterial infection that results in swelling of your brain’s protective lining)
Headaches resulting from hunger and stress might not be worrying. However, a migraine might be a sign of something more serious. Contact your doctor for an evaluation if you are concerned about your headache.