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When Do Your Headaches Require Medical Attention?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a headache is the most common form of pain and a leading cause of missed work and school. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that half of all adults experience at least one headache each year.

Not all headaches are alike, however. In general, there are two types of headaches:

At BodyWorks Medical Center, our skilled team of doctors and nurse practitioners look for the root cause of your headache and work to relieve your pain quickly so you can get back to your regular activities. 

While primary headaches typically subside on their own in time, secondary headaches are of concern and need to be evaluated. In this blog, our team outlines some of the warning signs of a headache that requires medical care.


If your headache results in persistent vomiting, it’s cause for concern. While it’s likely a migraine or the stomach flu and eventually will go away, it may be due to an infection like meningitis or bleeding on the brain.

Slurred speech

A stroke or an abnormal growth is often the culprit when you have a headache accompanied by sudden slurring of your words. 

Vision loss

Swelling of your optic nerve creates intracranial pressure that triggers an intense headache and blurred or reduced vision.


If you’re experiencing the worst headache you’ve ever had and it came on suddenly, you should get it checked out. This type of headache is often described as a thunderclap, because it happens intensely and rapidly.


If your physical exam and headache profile don’t give an explanation for sudden numbness with headache, your doctor may order an MRI to look for an aneurysm or a tumor.


A number of serious conditions, like stroke, concussion, meningitis, or hypertension, can cause you to become disoriented, forgetful, and have trouble thinking clearly.


If you’re getting a new headache every day and the pain ramps up as the day goes on, our team may order a CT scan or MRI to rule out meningitis, clots, or changes in the pressure or volume of your spinal fluid.

Some headaches are caused by serious disorders that necessitate prompt medical care. If you have a headache that’s characterized by any of the symptoms above, please call our office in Carol Stream, Illinois, to see one of our doctors immediately, or book your appointment online.

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