Severe Headache: What Should You Do?

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


A severe headache can be a serious condition, and if it’s not taken seriously, it can lead to serious complications.

It is a bad headache that will make your life miserable and may even make it difficult for you to function. Even if a severe headache’s warning signs can be terrifying, you don’t absolutely need to go to the emergency room. If you’re experiencing severe head pain, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your symptoms and seek medical attention. While most headaches are mild, severe head pain can be serious and require immediate attention. In this post, we’ll discuss the signs and symptoms of severe head pain and how to get it evaluated by a doctor.

When to worry about a headache: That’s a question that many people ask themselves, but there’s no definitive answer. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the signs that indicate a headache is serious and what you can do if you’re concerned.

Headaches are one of the most common ailments in the world, affecting over 50% of people at some point in their lives. While some headaches are mild and can be treated at home, others are more severe and require immediate medical attention.

What Factors Contribute to Severe Headaches?

But what causes them? And how can we best treat them?

A severe headache is one that is very painful and causes you to feel like you are going to die. They can be caused by a number of different things, including a stroke, an aneurysm, or a brain tumor. But yet, the flare-up of headaches can be due to chronic conditions as well.

Severe headaches can occur as either primary or secondary headaches and can be very

It’s excruciating. Primary headache syndromes are characterized by a single, severe headache that lasts for at least 24 hours without any associated symptoms. The main symptom in primary headaches is the headache itself.

Secondary headache syndromes are characterized by recurring headaches that are caused by another underlying medical condition. If you are experiencing a severe headache, it is important to see your doctor and have your symptoms evaluated.

The common causes of primary severe headaches are:

  • Migraine
  • Cluster headaches
  • Tension headaches
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Giant Cell Arteritis

The secondary causes of severe headache are:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Blood pressure greater than 180/110 mmHg)
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Meningitis, encephalitis
  • Heat stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Preeclampsia
  • Severe sinusitis

When Should I Worry about Headaches?

Headaches are a common occurrence, but if they become severe or persist for an extended period of time, you should seek medical attention. There are signs that indicate a headache is serious and when to worry. If you’re experiencing a severe headache, it’s important to rule out other possible causes before assuming it’s just a headache.

Here are signs that your severe headache may be more than just a headache:

  • intractable vomiting
  • the sudden blurring of vision or loss of vision and vertigo
  • sudden onset of confusion or coma
  • Seizure
  • Neurological deficit (speech, gait abnormalities, and muscle weakness)
  • Red Eye
  • History of a blow to the head within 24 hours
  • Neck stiffness and fever

If you experience any of these signs, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

A severe headache that feels like a thunderclap or blow to the head is often a sign of a serious medical condition. It can be very painful and can last for hours. An acute onset of thunderclap blow-like headache occurs as a result of a rupture of the brain artery, which is termed a subarachnoid hemorrhage. It needs immediate medical attention.

When a person has a history of a blow or injury to the head within 24 hours, it is important to reevaluate the headache of the patient to exclude underlying skull fractures and bleeding.

Infection in the brain is a serious condition that needs prompt treatment. If your headache is accompanied by fever, confusion, and neck stiffness, the patient should be admitted at once to the hospital for antibiotic therapy.

How to spot a severe headache in kids?

If your child is experiencing severe headaches, it’s important to take them seriously and seek medical attention. While they may seem like a normal part of growing up, severe headaches in children can be a sign of something more serious going on.

Uncomplicated headaches might go away from over-the-counter medicines, rest, and proper hydration. If you’re worried about your child’s headaches, or if they last longer than a few days, it’s important to see a doctor.

  • Fever with headache. It may be due to meningitis.
  • The child is drowsy and difficult to awaken.
  • History of a fall or truama to the head within 24 hours
  • If the child is having continuous vomiting with a headache,

These are all concerns that might indicate a severe headache and the requirement for medical care.

Triggers for severe headaches

Many people suffer from headaches at some point in their lives, but for some people, a severe headache can be a trigger for something else.

If you’re experiencing severe headaches, you may be wondering what triggers them. While it’s impossible to know for sure, there are some common culprits that can cause your head to hurt.

However, there are some common triggers that you may want to avoid in order to help relieve your symptoms.


So if you’re experiencing severe headaches when you drink either one of those substances, contact your doctor. When in withdrawal after binge drinking, both can cause headaches.

 Dental issues

Severe headaches may be caused by dental or jaw problems. The person will experience headaches as a result of referred pain signals from their jaw.

 Food additives

It has found that certain foods can trigger headache symptoms. Cheese, processed or salty foods, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and aspartame may cause headaches.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, try avoiding these foods for a few days and see if your headaches improve. If they do, then you can avoid or reintroduce these foods in moderation.


Headaches can be caused by the flu, cold, or meningitis. A viral infection with fever is a common occurrence of a severe headache.

Smell of light sound

If you’re sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds, and strong smells, you may be at risk of a headache. Sensory sensitivity can be a sign of a possible migraine or other disorder.


According to a recent study, as many as one in three people experience a severe headache within the first 24 hours after taking a new medication.

Physical exertion

Strenuous physical excretion may trigger severe headache as there is excessive sweating which might cause dehydration.

Sesonal Allergies

When a person has seasonal allergies and continues with rhinorrhea, they can cause


Hormonal changes are often the cause of your headaches, so we would like to offer you a free consultation to help you find the best treatment for your condition.

Headaches are a common complaint among women of childbearing age. It is not uncommon for women to experience headaches in the first trimester of pregnancy, when hormonal changes are occurring. The headaches are often worse in the afternoon and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Headache triggered by hormonal changes? You’re not alone. Many women suffer from migraines or cluster headaches triggered by hormonal changes. If you’re experiencing a headache, it can be helpful to talk to your doctor about it. He or she can help you figure out what’s causing it and how to treat it.


Headaches are a common symptom of sleep deprivation. If you’re experiencing a severe headache, it might be due to a lack of proper sleep treatment.


Headaches are one of the most common complaints among smokers. Research shows that people who smoke are more than twice as likely to experience headaches as those who don’t. A recent study found that even second-hand smoke can trigger a headache.

Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk. Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause lung cancer, heart disease, and many other serious illnesses. If you’re a smoker or someone you know is experiencing frequent headaches, it’s important to get rid of smoking exposure.


Headaches are a common symptom of stress, but they can also be a sign of a more serious condition. Stress can complicate brain secretions and may cause headaches.


The barometric pressure changes can trigger migraines, sinus headaches, and even cause eye pressure changes that can lead to vision problems.

Changing weather patterns may lead to a headache in certain individuals. The best way to avoid this is to stay indoors during those times.

The best way to identify triggers is by maintaining a headache diary.

 When to see a doctor

  • Headache accompanied by fever, confusion, neck pain and stiffness, and diarrhea and symptoms of infection need medical attention and further investigations.
  • Infection can come with fever, confusion, neck pain and stiffness, and decreased alertness.
  • Stroke; sudden weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, trouble speaking or understanding, or a sudden change in vision are common findings in a stroke patient and need to start antiplatelet therapy.
  • Concussion: This can occur following a blow to the head and will show symptoms of loss of consciousness , dizzinessm vomiting , vertigo etc.
  • Dehydration: It is the most common cause of headaches in the summer. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of nausea or vomiting, dizziness, confusion, or problems breathing with dehydration, you may need immediate intravenous fluid replacement.
  •  Heat Stroke: Headaches that appear in extreme heats due to excessive sweating is termed as heat stroke. The patient may feel dizziness, vertigo and low blood pressure may be evident.
  • Pregnancy : headache in pregnancy may be due to high blood pressure levels and the patient might be at risk of developing preeclampsia, thus immediate transfer the

If you have a headache that lasts more than 24 hours or is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you should talk to your doctor.


Headaches are very common, but they can be very severe. If you have a headache that lasts more than 24 hours or if it is severe or moderate in severity (tension), you have to visit your doctor right away.

The doctor will take a detailed history and perform a neurological examination. He will further assess the pupils, gait, and speech of the person. The vital signs, including blood pressure, should be measured.

The below are other tests that the physician will order.

  • MRI or CT brain scan
  • Spinal fluid testing
  • Blood testing
  • Eye testing

The best way to treat a severe headache is to find the cause and treat it. However, if the headaches are severe and/or last for more than a few days, a healthcare professional may recommend additional treatment options.


There are many different types of headaches, each with their own symptoms and treatments. The goal of treatment is to relieve the pain and stop the headaches from happening so that the person can function normally.

If your headaches are getting worse and you’re not sure what to do, please consult a healthcare professional.

NSAIDS or other preventive drugs.

If you are experiencing a severe headache, it is important to seek medical attention. Headaches are one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor and can be very debilitating.

Until meeting the doctor, the headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and/or prescription medications.

 Drinking Fluids

Severe headaches can be worsened by dehydration. Dehydration can be caused by a number of factors, including a lack of fluids due to vomiting, or in hot weather, and excessive sweating. Thus, drinking adequately might reduce the severe headaches.

Hot or cold Compression?

A severe headache might be alleviated with cold compression. Hot compression of the headache might benefit if you are having rhinorrhea, fever, or flu-like symptoms.

Resting in a Dark Room

A new study shows that people who sleep in a room with little light and fewer distractions are likely to heal from headaches. Dark rooms help you sleep better.

The human eye can only see in certain ranges of light, and it’s important to ensure that you’re resting your eyes in a range that’s optimal for your health. That can reduce brain stimulation and pain.

Maintain Blood Pressure Control

Regular measuring of your blood pressure and taking antihypertensive may reduce hypertensive emergencies.

Prevention of Severe Headache

Headaches are a common complaint, and they can be difficult to manage. Here are some prevention tips to avoid severe headaches.

A Balanced Diet

Skipping meals and eating junk food are found to be a cause of severe headaches.

Thus, taking wholesome food in moderation and staying healthy is essential to avoid headaches.


Regular exercise will direct regular blood flow to the brain with good oxygen. Exercising without strain will help to keep the head balanced and avoid pain.

Prescription Drugs

If you’re having headaches, it’s important to talk to your doctor about persistent or worsening headaches so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions causing your pain. However, if your headaches only occur intermittently, preventive medications may be beneficial to avoid severe headaches.

(Antiseizure drugs, triptans, antihypertensives, etc.)


While most headaches are mild, some can be severe and last for days. If you have a headache, you may find it hard to concentrate, remember things, and feel depressed. A good night’s sleep might be all you want to relieve your severe headache. Sleep can help to relax the brain and refresh it.

Stress relief

Stress management, yoga, and meditation can reduce the frequency of headaches.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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