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Got a Headache? Your Body May Be Telling You Something
Date:12/21/2010

in weather
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Menstruation and other hormonal changes
  • Avoiding these triggers can be as simple as wearing a hat and sunglasses when you're outside, or ingesting some medication or caffeine just before your period, Beck said.

    And then there are signs that a headache might be indicative of a more serious medical condition, such as a tumor or aneurysm, Beck said. Red flags include:

    • A type of severe headache pain you've never felt before
    • Headache pain that won't respond to medication or other treatment
    • Headaches that wake you from your sleep
    • Fever accompanying a headache
    • Confusion or nerve symptoms along with a headache

    "These dangerous headaches are rare, but we physicians want to be able to identify them as soon as possible," Beck said. "If there's something that worries you, it's better to see your physician."

    Diamond agrees. "If you're getting more than three or four headaches a week, or you're taking excessive amounts of analgesics on a daily or almost daily basis, you should seek out care," he said.

    More information

    The American Academy of Family physicians has more about headache symptoms and diagnosis.

    For more on living with migraines, read about one woman's story.

    SOURCES: Ellen Beck, M.D., family physician, San Diego, and clinical professor, division of family and preventative medicine, University of California, San Diego; Seymour Diamond, M.D., director and founder, Diamond Headache Clinic, director, inpatient headache unit, Saint Joseph Hospital, Chicago, and clinical professor, family medicine, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago <
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