A headache is so bad it wakes you up
Dr. Gupta explains that if a headache is so severe that it wakes you up or is specifically really intense only in the mornings, it’s worth bringing up with your doctor. “The only way to completely rule out causes of a more serious headache is to see a doctor who will order either a CT scan or MRI of your brain and possibly blood vessels, based on your symptoms,” she explains. Here are 8 types of headaches–and how to get rid of them.
If your neck is stiff or you have a fever
Meningitis is an inflammation of the tough membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and it can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other factors. Bacterial meningitis tends to be more serious than viral infections, but thankfully it is relatively rare. About 4,000 people get bacterial meningitis each year in the US. If you have a sudden severe headache coupled with a high fever and your neck becomes sore, Tania Dempsey, MD, recommends seeing a doctor immediately. While the majority of patients do recover from this illness, it needs to be treated promptly.
Your headache just won’t quit
A stubborn headache might cause you to double-up on pain meds, chug water, and close your eyes, but if the symptoms persist Dr. Dempsey says book an appointment ASAP. Especially if you already struggle with head pain, you not being able to move past the dull sensation may be extra cause for worry. “Someone with a history of headaches who notices a change in the pattern and location of the headache and a lack of response to headache treatments that worked in the past should know that the headache is severe and needs prompt attention,” she says. (Find out the unexpected reasons you’re waking up with a headache.)