6 Revealing Things to Notice About Your Headaches
Plagued by a headache or series of headaches? Most headaches aren't serious, but it's natural to worry about headache causes. Asking yourself the following questions can help you assess this common symptom and give you insights into the information a doctor will want to know in order to figure out the cause.
Headache pain question #1: What does the headache feel like?
It can be hard to describe pain. One rare headache experience worth knowing about: A sudden and severe "thunderclap" headache -- doctors call it "the worst headache of your life" -- is a warning sign of a cerebral aneurysm, or ruptured blood vessel in the brain, which can be life threatening and warrants immediate medical attention. These headaches don't build gradually or come and go; they leap out of nowhere, says Michael Sellman, chief of neurology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
Most headaches, however, develop gradually. A doctor may ask you to describe the nature of the pain -- is it sharp and intense or a milder, dull ache? Is the pain a constant squeezing (which is consistent with a pinched nerve) or throbbing (which is typical of migraine pain)?
See if you can determine the location of the headache, too: Is it an all-over tension headache (caused by the tightening of muscles all over the scalp)? Is it a dull throbbing behind the eyeballs or temples? Is it on one side of the head (such as isolated to one sinus cavity) or everywhere?