What Makes a Headache Dangerous

DALLAS, June 30 (UPI) — Intensity is not necessarily a sign of how serious headache pain is but there are red flags to watch out for, a U.S. neurologist says.

Dr. Ahmed Jafri of the University of Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas says anyone who frequently uses pain medication to self-treat chronic headaches should seek medical help.

“A headache may stem from a harmless problem, or it might be a sign of a life-threatening disorder,” Jafri says in a statement. “There are certain red flags that should send a person to the doctor, or even an emergency room.”

Jafri says any of the following symptoms warrants immediate emergency attention:

– A change in the character or pattern of existing headaches.

– Explosive headaches.

– Headache pain that increases in intensity.

– New headaches in children or seniors.

– “The worst headache of my life.”

– Headache with exertion, coughing or sex.

In addition, Jafri says a headache accompanied by fever and stiff neck, visual impairment, fainting, paralysis anywhere on the body, or bloodshot eyes with tearing and a runny nose requires medical care.

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