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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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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

Basilar Migraines

When someone has a basilar migraine, there is a disturbance in the brainstem or lower part of the brain. Even before the migraine headache begins, the person may experience an ''aura,'' consisting of a variety of symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, and lack of coordination. An aura is a neurological phenomenon that occurs about 10 minutes to 45 minutes before the headache starts. Basilar migraines are known by several different names: Basilar-type migraine Bickerstaff syndrome ...

Read the Basilar Migraines article > >

If you feel a severe 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 also have nasal congestion -- 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. 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 18, 2015

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