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When to Worry About Chronic Headaches

When to Worry About Chronic Headaches

Nearly everyone experiences a headache at some point. After all, tight ponytails, dehydration, and lack of sleep can quickly trigger a headache. However, these headaches are easily remedied by trying a new hairstyle, drinking more water, and prioritizing proper sleep hygiene. 

But when your occasional headache becomes a daily occurrence, should you worry? Chronic headaches can quickly sabotage your quality of life. If you’re dealing with them, the team of neurology specialists here at Link Neuroscience Institute encourages you to visit our Oxnard or Santa Barbara, California, location for help managing chronic headaches. 

In the meantime, let’s take a look at the warning signs that it’s time to worry about chronic headaches and signs that you don’t need to worry about.

When to worry about your headaches

If you experience any of the following, it’s time to seek medical attention for your headaches. 

Your headache is more intense than usual

When your headaches are more severe than you typically experience, it’s a clear signal that something might be amiss. If the pain is significantly stronger than usual and doesn't respond to your regular remedies, it's worth checking out.

You’ve developed chronic headaches suddenly

If you’ve never had a history of chronic headaches but suddenly experience an intense one, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. New, exceptionally severe headaches should be evaluated, especially if other symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or vision problems accompany them.

A word of caution: If you develop “the worst headache of your life,” call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room. These are called thunderclap headaches and can indicate bleeding in the brain, ischemic stroke, or hypertensive crisis. 

Your normal headache pattern is changing

Your usual headache pattern might involve mild discomfort that’s easy to manage. However, if you notice a sudden change in the frequency, duration, or nature of your headaches, it could be indicative of an underlying problem, such as tumors. Such changes should not be ignored.

You have other neurological symptoms

Any chronic headache accompanied by neurological symptoms should be taken seriously. These symptoms include numbness, weakness, difficulty speaking, confusion, or trouble with coordination. They could point to a more serious condition that requires prompt emergency medical evaluation. 

Your headaches are preventing you from getting good sleep

Headaches that consistently disrupt your sleep or worsen upon waking up are a cause for concern. Quality sleep is vital for overall health, and you shouldn’t ignore persistent sleep-disrupting headaches.

Your headaches are getting worse

If your headaches are gradually becoming more intense or frequent over time, it’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored. Progressive worsening of symptoms could signify various underlying conditions that necessitate medical investigation.

You developed a headache after an injury

If you experience headaches following a head injury, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. These headaches could indicate a concussion or other serious brain injury that requires assessment and proper management.

Some injuries may not cause injuries right away. Whiplash, for example, is notorious for this. You may not notice symptoms for as many as 10 hours after your initial injury.

When you don’t need to worry about headaches

On the flip side, you don’t have to worry every time you have a headache. You don’t have to worry if:

In the above examples, your headaches should resolve once the underlying condition or issue is addressed. 

Do you need help managing chronic headaches? Let us know!

If you’re unsure about the severity of your chronic headaches, it’s always a good idea to consult the team here at Link Neuroscience Institute. They can help identify the underlying causes and recommend the appropriate course of action to manage and treat your condition effectively. Your potential treatments may include lifestyle modifications, avoiding triggers, medication, nerve injections, Botox® injections, cervical cord stimulation, or peripheral nerve stimulation. 

To schedule a headache consultation, call our Oxnard or Santa Barbara, California office. Alternatively, try our online booking tool to get started.

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