Severe Headache: Important Things to Know

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

What Are the Best Treatments for Severe Headache?

While most of us will experience tension headaches with considerable frequency, these are usually fairly mild and short-lived. Sometimes, however, headaches can cause acute pain - often understandably causing concern to the sufferer. For this reason, it is useful to learn all about the different aspects of this condition, particularly what the potential causes might be, and how it can be treated.

What Is the Difference between a Severe Headache and a Migraine?

These two complaints are commonly confused. While they can share the same pain relating to location and severity in the head, migraines will usually have other additional symptoms such as:

  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea

Extreme pain in the head without such symptoms as these is generally considered a severe headache.

What Are the Causes of Severe Headaches?

Unfortunately, some women are more susceptible that others when it comes to severe headaches. While many women are lucky enough to experience mild pain that can quickly be eased by taking pain-killing medication or rest, others find that the pain is so acute that it inhibits their daily routine. Severe headache causes include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations. Many severe headaches can be attributed to the levels of reproductive hormones - which is the reason why many headaches occur in women just before, or during their menstrual cycle.

  • Stress and anxiety. Some women find that they suffer with headaches when they are faced with problems, or during difficult periods of their lives. It is possible for emotions to manifest themselves in this, and other physical ways.

  • Head injury. If you have experienced an accident which has caused impact to your head, it is likely that you will suffer with severe pain. This is often exasperated by the body's natural protection method of blood surging to the area, which causes swelling.

  • Congestion. When your sinuses become congested with a cold or flu, this leads to inflammation of the sinus lining which can then cause pressure. Sometimes this pressure can build up enough to cause a headache.

  • Excessive alcohol intake. It is well-known that drinking a lot of alcohol can have negative effects: a hangover. Most women will experience an intense headache after a heavy night of drinking, and often nausea or even vomiting as well.

When Do I Need to Be Worried about Severe Head Pain?

While most severe headaches can be readily explained with a common reason, which does not warrant substantial concern, it must be acknowledged that sometimes it is possible for head pain to occur as a consequence of something more serious. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:

  • Additional symptoms such as a rash, fever, pain or redness in the eyes, or a stiff neck
  • Problems relating to speech, memory, strength, or alertness
  • If the headache does not go away or it becomes worse
  • If it has occurred quickly after physical exercise, laughing, coughing, or sneezing

It is rare, but some serious headaches can be a sign of a stroke, meningitis, or a brain tumor.

What Are the Best Treatments for Severe Headache?

The first port of call for any headache - for most people - will be over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophens. Sometimes this might not be sufficient for extreme head pain, and so the following might also be recommended:

  • Applying peppermint oil to the forehead or temples
  • Rubbing tiger balm on the forehead or temples
  • Resting in a dark room
  • Drinking more water

Hopefully, the majority of women will not have to endure a severe headache many times throughout their life - if at all. It can be advisable to learn about severe headache and the reasons behind it, in case yourself or a loved one do ever encounter it.