Headaches are a common ailment experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lives. The symptoms can vary, ranging from a throbbing sensation to a heavy pressure, similar to having a rock placed on your head.
There is a wide range of headache patterns, including experiencing headaches during menstruation or chronic daily headaches. Most of these headaches fall under the category of “primary headaches,” meaning they occur without any structural brain problems or other identifiable causes. Examples include migraines and tension headaches.
On the other hand, “secondary headaches” are caused by other underlying factors. While they account for approximately 3% of all headaches, they can be triggered by conditions such as trauma, brain disorders, facial or internal diseases, internal medicine conditions, medications, or alcohol consumption.
According to Professor Ihak-yeong from Kangdong Kyung Hee University Hospital’s Neurology Department, if you experience severe pain accompanied by your first-ever intense headache, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention, treating it as if you were struck by lightning.
Secondary headaches can be dangerous as they may be associated with life-threatening brain conditions, tumors, or increased intracranial pressure. Delaying medical care in such cases can put your life at risk.
Certain symptoms suggest the possibility of secondary headaches, including suddenly intense headaches that feel like a lightning strike, abrupt paralysis of one arm or leg, speech disorders, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headaches following recent accidents or head and neck injuries, waking up from sleep due to severe pain, severe dizziness, double vision, visual impairment, or headaches that do not respond to painkillers. If any of these symptoms occur, immediate medical attention is necessary.
Headaches can also be caused by conditions such as cerebral aneurysms, strokes, or cerebral hemorrhages resulting from falls or head impacts, particularly in the elderly.
Professor Ihak-yeong explains that even in cancer patients, individuals taking anticoagulants or immunosuppressants, or pregnant women, new or different headaches should be assessed by medical professionals.
The professor emphasizes that in the case of elderly individuals complaining of headaches after a fall, careful observation is essential. If their speech becomes slightly slurred or they start dragging one leg while walking, immediate transportation to the hospital is necessary.
Preventing falls is crucial as subarachnoid hemorrhages caused by ruptured cerebral blood vessels can lead to sudden and urgent symptoms as blood accumulates over time.
For headaches caused by conditions such as cerebral aneurysms, strokes, or cerebral hemorrhages, prompt action is vital.
After visiting a medical facility, a detailed medical history and examination are necessary to determine the possibility of secondary headaches. If a brain disorder is suspected, further diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans may be required.
Professor Ihak-yeong emphasizes the importance of seeking expert medical care and undergoing comprehensive examinations if you experience a new type of headache or one that differs from your usual pattern. It is essential not to overlook the warning signals sent by your brain.