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What Headaches Are Dangerous?

Last updated on November 28th, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Everyone knows headaches are a pain, but what headaches are dangerous? Read this post to find out when the pain could be a sign of something serious…

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Experiencing a headache is very common and nearly everyone gets head pain at some point. Headaches can be quite uncomfortable, painful, and even debilitating. 

There is nothing much to worry about, but some headaches on side of the head are an indication of serious health conditions. In these situations, one must not delay and immediately consult with a specialist.

When to worry about a headache?

Headache pain can turn out to be a serious health condition if it is sudden, very intense, and sharp. Also if the patient experiences a stiff neck and fever they must immediately consult a doctor.

It is observed that sometimes a headache is an indication of a medical emergency. Certain types of life-threatening illnesses can also cause a headache that needs urgent attention.


Stroke is a preventable and treatable health condition. If the affected individual gets prompt medical attention and proper treatment then they can recover quickly.


When a person experiences trauma in the head they may have a concussion or a mild injury. In such situations, it is necessary to get immediate medical help.

Patients experience concussions after a blow to the head or a fall. It will eventually affect their daily activities. 


Headache during the third trimester of pregnancy is an indication of preeclampsia. It is a type of health complication due to high blood pressure.

The patient can suffer liver or kidney damage, injury to the brain, or other serious health conditions. The condition is known to affect more than 8% of pregnant women.

Heat stroke

If a person overheats in the warm weather or during excessive exercise they may experience a heat stroke. Some of the warning signs of heat stroke include double vision, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty in walking.

Dangerous headache symptoms

Following are some of the common symptoms of a dangerous headache

  • Sharp or severe head pain for the first time
  • Sudden very intense headache
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pain that wakes one up from the sleep
  • Fever and stiff neck
  • Loss of balance or dizziness

When a person experiences a recurring headache they may be suffering from a chronic daily headache. If the headache persists for 15 days every month then it is considered a chronic daily headache.

Patients that experience chronic sudden headache deal with psychiatric issues like depression or anxiety. In such cases, it is necessary to treat the underlying depression or anxiety for improving overall health. 

Regular physical activity is an important aspect of preventing chronic headaches. It reduces stress levels and keeps an individual healthy.

Sometimes patients get headaches that wake them up from sleep. The condition is turned into a hypnic headache or alarm clock headache.

It happens at the same time every night for a week. The condition is more common among people over the age of 50.

A throbbing pain is the most common type of headache that is characterized by propounding or pulsating pain. Learning personal common triggers and taking steps is effective in preventing the condition.

Regular persistent headache is what affects a large number of people. The condition may worsen or improve slightly from day to day. Such patients may not respond to traditional headache treatment options.

what headaches are dangerous?

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What type of headaches is serious?

According to studies, there are more than 150 types of headaches. These are categorized into primary and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches are the ones that are not caused by a medical condition like migraine, persistent daily headache, cluster headache, and tension headache.

On the other hand, secondary headaches are related to different medical conditions like head injury, medication overuse, infection, trauma, etc.


Migraine headaches are a common type of primary headache affecting a large number of people. Patients may feel moderate to severe pain from chronic migraines

The affected person may experience sensitivity to bright lights and noise. Abdominal pain or stomach upset is also common in this condition.

Cluster headache

It is the most painful primary headache. Patience usually experiences cluster headaches during the spring or fall.

The headache may disappear completely for several months or years and then recur again.

Tension headache

Tension headaches are the most common type characterized by consistent headaches without throbbing. The intensity changes from being mine to moderate.

The pain is usually felt on both sides of the head. The intensity may turn words during regular activity.

what headaches are dangerous?

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Thunderclap headache

If a person is affected by thunderclap headaches then they may experience severe pain striking suddenly like a clap of thunder. The pain of this severe headache may increase within 60 seconds.

The condition is not very common but can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition. According to a health care provider, it is mostly indicative of bleeding in or around the brain. 

Patients must seek medical attention if they experience tension-type headaches. Some of the common symptoms include

  • Pain peaking within 30 seconds
  • Can include vomiting or nausea
  • Strikes severely and suddenly

The condition may be accompanied by symptoms of fever, seizures, loss of vision, and altered mental state. It can also have an impact on the underlying cause. 

Patients must seek immediate medical attention that comes on suddenly and severely. A variety of life-threatening illnesses are responsible for the condition.

Sudden severe headache

Individuals experiencing sudden extremely painful headaches can be suffering from thunderclap headaches. A severe headache usually reaches the pick within a minute and can persist for more than five minutes. 

Such a type of headache affects the patient without any warning. Some of these neurological symptoms are not dangerous but can indicate serious health conditions. 

It is critical to take effective treatment early to eliminate threatening causes of sudden severe headaches.

Some types of tension headaches have no known cause but are not very dangerous. Others are a result of broken blood vessels in the brain due to injury.

Doctors diagnose the condition with an imaging test known as a CT angiogram scan. It helps in detecting the actual red flags of the pain.

Sometimes the diagnosis requires a sample of the spinal fluid from the back. The test is conducted to see if there are traces of blood in this final fluid.

MRI imaging test is also effective in determining the cause of sudden subarachnoid hemorrhage. Some of these conditions may require surgery to repair torn or ruptured blood vessels or to remove a blood clot

what headaches are dangerous?

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Bad headache covid

As is known to everyone COVID-19 is a type of viral infection caused by the coronavirus. The disease is characterized by a runny nose and respiratory infections. 

Headache is one of the most noticeable symptoms of COVID-19. Studies suggest that among the affected people more than 12% developed symptoms of dizziness or headache.

COVID-19 is also associated with tension headaches and migraine. In most cases, it gets cured within a couple of weeks.

However, some people experience long-haul headaches for several weeks or months.

There are no specific characteristics of headaches caused due to covid infection. It is important to check whether the intensity is more than usual. The timing of the pain is also important for proper counter pain reliever and treatment.

Individuals that experience COVID-19 headaches also have a previous history of migraine. It can also affect people without any migraine problems.

Recent studies suggest that many people experience headaches due to covid infection. In some cases, it lasts for more than two weeks.

Different home remedies are effective for managing the symptoms:

  • Massaging the forehead and temples
  • Taking sufficient rest
  • Applying cold press to the forehead
  • Taking OTC medicine like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, etc. 

How long do COVID-19 headaches last?

COVID-19 headaches typically last for 7 days. It is observed that the new headache may persist for more than 30 days in some people. 

A small percentage of people can suffer from the condition for more than three months. Symptoms like sore throat, fever, muscle aches, loss of taste, sinus headaches, and loss of smell are also common. 

What could be the cause of daily headaches?

Some of the conditions that might result in chronic regular headaches include

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Inflammation or other problems with blood vessels around the brain
  • Infections like meningitis
  • Brain tumor
  • Intracranial pressure

Medication overuse headache is also a form of regular headache. Patients that have episodic headache disorders like migraine take excessive medication.

These habits create a risk of developing rebound headaches. Consistent consumption of drugs may also result in other health problems like vision problems

FAQ relating to what headaches are dangerous

How do I know if a headache is serious?

If the headache pain comes on suddenly and is very violent. The person may experience slurred speech, problems in moving one leg, confusion, loss of balance, etc.

The medical condition is an indicator of serious illnesses. One must consult with a specialist immediately.

Which type of headache is considered a medical emergency?

If a migraine comes on within seconds an elderly person might need to get to an emergency room for medical help.

What is the most dangerous type of headache?

Cluster headache is considered the most severe type of headache that can affect a person. It can happen more than 8 times every day during the cluster phase.

How long is a dangerous headache?

Most types of dangerous head pain can last from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

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