Signs Your Headache Is More Serious Than You Think

If you generally consider yourself a healthy person, getting the occasional headache is just one of life's annoyances — an ailment as common (and as seemingly harmless) as the common cold, indigestion, or a mosquito bite. Except... when it's not. According to Mauricio Heilbron, M.D., trauma surgeon and vice chief of staff at St. Mary's Medical Center, there are a few specific circumstances when a headache means more than justification to skip that party — and might even require a trip to the emergency room.

Heilbron, who goes by the nickname "Dr. Mo," told Health Digest in an interview that a headache is more concerning if you rarely ever get them, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of one — or, if you usually get mild ones, suddenly you're hit with the worst headache of your life. "If you tend to get headaches, taking the occasional Tylenol or aspirin, you know what your 'normal' ones are," he explained. "But if it feels more acute, if it comes on more sudden," that's when you should worry, Heilbron advised.

If your pain feels like this, you might want to go to the emergency room

According to Heilbron, you should be especially concerned if the pain in your head is concentrated in a specific area. "If it feels like it's in one spot, like behind an eyeball, versus a more generalized, global headache," that could be a sign that you're dealing with something more serious than an ordinary headache, he said. If you typically get headaches, and this one is just much worse and "if your usual tricks don't seem to help," that's another warning sign, Heilbron added.

Drop what you're doing and go get medical treatment "if it's associated with neurological signs like visual disturbances," Heilbron added. "Then, maybe it's worth a call to your healthcare provider or perhaps a visit to your local urgent care or emergency room." Why so much cause for concern? "Worst case scenarios would be if you are on blood thinners and have a headache — this could lead to possible intracranial hemorrhage," Heilbron said. "Also, if you have problems controlling your high blood pressure and have a headache, [this] could result in bleeding aneurysms."