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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

Understanding Migraine -- Symptoms

The symptoms of migraines include: A brief period of depression, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, and decreased appetite as much as 24 hours before the onset of a headache Symptoms of an aura an hour or less before head pain starts A severe, throbbing headache, sometimes concentrated on only one side of the head or around one eye lasting between four and 72 hours A headache that worsens with exertion Nausea and vomiting Extreme sensitivity to light, so painful to t...

Read the Understanding Migraine -- Symptoms 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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