Life Threatening Causes


Headaches that reach a peak intensity in seconds to minutes, or sudden onset of the worst headache of your life

Headaches triggered by coughing, bending over, sexual activity, or other physical exertion

Headaches that begin or increase after trauma to the head or neck

Focal neurologic symptoms such as speech difficulties, balance problems, visual changes, and numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body

Memory loss and/or confusion

Onset of headaches after age forty

Headaches that are not your usual type of headaches; i.e., there is a change in the pattern of underlying headache

Abnormal neurologic examination, as performed by a physician

Symptoms of other serious illness

Headaches associated with neck stiffness

Headaches associated with fever

Headaches occurring for the first time in any patient, but especially in childhood or after the age of fifty