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Headache: When to Worry

Headache: When to Worry

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 adults has a headache almost every single day. So, if you’ve experienced this type of pain recently, you’re not alone. 

But if your head hurts often, you may have a few questions and concerns about your health. For starters, what causes headaches? On top of that, you probably want to know if you should be worried about your pain, especially if it’s a sensation that resurfaces often.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Types of Headaches

There are several different types of headaches, but most of them aren’t serious. In fact, it could be something as simple as needing a glass of water that has caused your head to hurt. 

You might need to eat, you may be tired, or you perhaps spent too much time looking at a screen today. Alcohol consumption, bad posture, and stress can also cause a headache. A sinus headache flares up from congestion. 

In medical terms, these are all typically tension headaches, which cause pain on the sides or back of the skull. This pain is temporary and even something you can work through or otherwise ignore. 

More acute pain — cluster headaches — center on the eye area. You may feel a burst of intense pain, causing the eye to tear or turn red. These are very uncommon, especially in comparison to tension headaches. 

You also may suffer from migraines, which tend to be a chronic, lifelong condition. Migraine sufferers tend to have throbbing pain in one area of the face, and sometimes that pain is so intense that it comes with side effects: nausea, light and/or sound sensitivity, or vomiting.

This is not an exhaustive list of the different types of headaches. However, they’re the most common ones — and some of them can be a sign that you need medical attention.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

If your headaches arise rarely and disappear in minutes or hours, they probably aren’t anything to worry about. However, you should know which headache-related symptoms can signify something more.

You may want to seek a doctor’s advice if any of the following statements describe you:

  • You suffer from frequent headaches
  • Your headaches cause you to suffer from intense or severe pain
  • Your headaches change your mood, cognitive abilities, or personality
  • Your headache lasts for a long time (hours)
  • Your headache comes with a stiff neck, fever, nausea, or vomiting
  • You have recently hit your head

In any of these situations, it’s important to see a doctor just to make sure that a more serious condition isn’t causing your headache.

What Causes Headaches Like These?

The latter category of headaches could have any number of causes. Again, most headaches are benign, but there are a few other, more serious scenarios that could cause your head to hurt, too.

The most common causes of serious headaches include:

  • Extreme dehydration
  • Head injury or concussion
  • High blood pressure
  • Heat stroke or stroke
  • Preeclampsia, if you are pregnant
  • Cancer
  • Brain issues, such as a tumor, hemorrhage, or aneurysm

Please keep in mind that these are very rare situations. If your head hurts, it’s probably not a sign of anything serious unless it comes with other unexpected, painful, and extreme symptoms.

Get Help for Headaches

Now that you know what causes headaches and the symptoms to watch out for, you may want to see a doctor. Perhaps you have a questionable symptom, or you might just want peace of mind that only a professional can provide. 

Either way, you can get answers quickly. Visit our emergency room in Bulverde, TX for help with your headache or any other symptom that needs immediate medical attention.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Cluster headache – about the disease. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from
World Health Organization. (2014, February 11). Headache disorders: How common are headaches? World Health Organization. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from