Most headaches are not a cause for serious concern. Many people experience migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches regularly that resolve themselves within a few hours.

However, in a few situations, a headache might be caused by a serious underlying medical condition, such as a brain tumor, an aneurysm, a blood clot, an impending stroke, or meningitis.

Indicators that you should see a doctor is if the headache is new, peculiar, or unusually severe. Another sign is if the headache does not subside with over-the-counter pain medications, home remedies, or by changing the environment that may be triggering the headache.

You also should see a doctor if the symptoms do not improve within a couple of weeks, as well as if you experience any of the following, especially at the same time as the headache:

  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • The headache is worse in the morning or when you’re lying down
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Waking up from sleep due to the headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pressure in the back of the head
  • A sensation of the room spinning
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever
  • Stiff neck/numbness
  • Seizure or speech problems
  • Hearing problems
  • A painful red eye
  • Tenderness near the temples
  • Cognitive issues or personality changes
Headaches may be symptoms of more serious underlying medical conditions. In this image, a young woman in pain is lying on a couch with her hand on her forehead.

Headaches may be symptoms of serious underlying medical conditions.

Additionally, you should see a doctor for a headache if:

  • It starts suddenly and is severe
  • You have cancer
  • You have liver, heart, or kidney disease
  • You are pregnant
  • You have an immune disorder such as HIV

Treatments and remedies for everyday headaches or headaches that have underlying causes vary depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a physician to thoroughly review your symptoms.

Our neurosurgeons here at Insight can provide you with a treatment plan or surgical options for conditions such as brain tumors, aneurysms, disc herniations, lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and trigeminal neuralgia. Contact us for more information about our services.


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For medical emergencies, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.