Skip to content

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Headache -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of a Headache?

If you feel a dull, steady pain that feels like a band tightening around your head, you may have a tension headache.

If you feel throbbing that begins on one side and causes nausea or sound/light sensitivity, you may have a migraine. Visual disturbances, such as flickering points of light, may precede a migraine headache.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Headache Treatment

Headache treatment depends largely on determining the cause of the headache. Tension headaches can usually be treated by the use of over-the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Motrin, or even aspirin. When tension or stress is the cause, nondrug options may include massage to relieve muscle tension, yoga and other forms of exercise, and working less when possible.  The treatment of migraine headaches is somewhat more involved and may involve a number of different approaches to the pain. (Please...

Read the Understanding Headache Treatment article > >

If you feel a non-throbbing pain around one red, watery eye, with nasal congestion on that side of your face, you may have a cluster headache.

If you feel a steady pain in the area behind your face that gets worse if you bend forward -- and if you have nasal congestion as well -- you may have a sinus headache.

Call Your Doctor About a Headache If:

  • You have a new kind of headache that you've never felt before. Does it happen the first thing in the morning, bring on vomiting, and then go away during the day? See your doctor without delay.
  • You have a high fever and severe pain with nausea and a stiff neck. Does light hurt your eyes? You may have meningitis. Get medical help now.
  • You are drowsy with dizziness, vertigo, nausea, or vomiting after a head injury. You may have a concussion. See your doctor right away.
  • You have recurring or very painful headaches.

Call 911 Now If:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache. It is the “worst headache of your life.” Or you have had a seizure, are confused, have passed out, or have a change in behavior.  These may be signs of a stroke. Call 911. 
  • You have a severe headache with vomiting, limb weakness, double vision, slurred speech, or difficulty swallowing. This may signal a stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, or an aneurysm. Call 911. Get medical help now.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 28, 2014

Today on WebMD

woman receiving acupuncture
14 alternative methods for migraine relief.
woman with migraine
Get the truth about migraines.
 
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
desert heat
12 surprising headache triggers.
 
woman with migraine
Quiz
drinking coffee
Article
 
Migraines Headaches Basics
Article
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
 
young woman with migraine
Articles
spraying perfume
Article
 
man with a headache
Article
headache in the bedroom
Article
 

Special Sections