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Red Flags for Headache

What are the clues that might tell us that headaches are a symptom of a more serious condition? The items listed below outline some of the "Red Flags for Headache."  A person with any of the features listed below needs to have medical attention.

  • Severe or persistent loss of vision, strength, sensation, speech, balance or in conjunction with a change in personality or new epileptic seizures
  • Any headache with fever, confusion, stiff neck or sore back
  • Sudden onset of a very severe headache (“most severe headache ever”). Worsening of a previous headache pattern.
  • New onset of headache after 35
  • Headaches developing in a person with known serious illness. (cancer, AIDS, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. or on "blood thinner" medications like warfarin)
  • Headache that starts after a blow to the head, especially if loss of consciousness (blackout) occurred