Have you ever experienced a headache that felt like some of the worst pain you’ve ever experienced? Or perhaps you experience a headache almost every day of the week. Whatever situation you might have experienced, you may have wondered when you should be concerned about a headache. Should you visit the ER? Should you consult your dentist? To help give you peace of mind and know when a visit to a medical professional may be needed, we’ve broken down some of the signs you should worry about a headache.

woman sitting on her bed, suffering from a headache

Recurring Headaches

One of the reasons you should feel concerned about a headache is when you experience recurring headaches. Recurring headaches mean you experience at least 15 per month or 2 per week on a consistent basis. Recurring headaches are usually a sign that something bigger is going on in your health. For instance, you might experience recurring headaches if you’re dealing with hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, taking certain medications, caffeine withdrawal, anxiety, TMJ disorders, or sleep apnea. Recurring headaches can happen for a number of reasons.

Determining the cause of your recurring headache will help you find an effective treatment plan that provides long-term relief. For instance, if you have sleep apnea, treating it by wearing an oral appliance every night will help you experience fewer headaches. If you have a TMJ disorder, treatment from your TMJ dentist in Lee’s Summit will also reduce or eliminate your headaches.

Headaches That Wake You Up

Another sign of a headache you shouldn’t ignore is a headache that wakes you up. If the pain is so bad that it impacts your sleep and causes you to wake up, this means a serious health problem could be occurring. If you don’t have headaches that wake you up but headaches that feel worse at night (and may even prevent you from sleeping), this is also a concern. Very often headaches can worsen when you sleep due to your mandible (lower jaw) falling backward at night. This puts pressure on blood vessels and nerves, contributing to head pain.

Throbbing Head

Severe headaches that come with throbbing pain are also a sign of a headache you shouldn’t ignore. Severe pain such as throbbing as well as sensitivity to light indicates that you’re not having a usual headache. Instead, it’s likely a migraine. Migraines also come with symptoms such as pain around the eye, nausea, vomiting, aura, and more. Migraines can happen often and symptoms can last for days in some cases. If you’re suffering from migraines, there are lots of treatment options that can help. For example, at Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea, we provide patients with TMJ treatment that is highly effective for recurring migraines.

Intense Pain

Another sign of a headache you shouldn’t ignore is intense pain. This means that you experience the worst pain of your life and it feels unbearable. If you experience a headache like this, you should absolutely not wait around. Go seek medical attention immediately. The intense pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. It might be a life-threatening condition like bleeding in the brain, or an aneurysm. Aneurysms might lead to coma or death. Definitely don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if the intense pain is accompanied by loss of consciousness, blurred vision, or seizures.

Persistent Headaches

Have you ever experienced a headache that lasted for several days? If so, this is not normal. Although this isn’t a sign of a serious or life-threatening health problem, it is a sign that you may have a headache disorder or an underlying problem such as TMJ disorder. We encourage you to bring this up with your doctor or during your next dental appointment at Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea.

woman placing pressure on her forhead with hand

Headaches With Fever and Stiff Neck

If your headache also includes having a fever and stiff neck, these are signs that you might have meningitis. Meningitis is a condition in which inflammation occurs in the spinal cord membranes and brain. You may also experience other symptoms including muscle pain, rash, vomiting, and drowsiness. Meningitis can progress quickly and become life-threatening. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Headaches That Cause Change in Mental Function or Coordination

If your headache is intense and also comes with weakness, loss of coordination, or confusion, we encourage you to seek medical attention immediately. Headaches that cause changes to your mental function or coordination can be a sign of stroke. If a stroke is left untreated, it can result in permanent brain damage. Remember, there is no such thing as a “normal headache”. Oftentimes patients report, “I get headaches, just the same as everyone else”. Let’s change that.

Get Headache Treatment in Lee’s Summit, MO

If you’re struggling with recurring or morning headaches, or suffer from persistent headaches but have yet to find a treatment that helps, please book an appointment with our Lee’s Summit dentist. TMJ treatment or sleep apnea treatment might be exactly what you need to find relief. We will help you get diagnosed and then find the best treatment solution for your needs. Contact our Lee’s Summit dental office at (816) 795-1000 to book an appointment with Dr. Pribyl or Dr. Kleoppel today.