Signs You Should Be Concerned about Headaches

Headaches are among the most common symptoms you experience. Headaches might be linked to serious medical conditions, or they might be no real cause for concern. How do you know? Here are some of the signs that you should take a headache seriously.

Recurring Headaches

Recurring headaches are a cause for concern. They are more likely to be linked to serious conditions and disrupt your daily routine. The definition of a recurring headache varies, but if you experience 15 headaches per month or at least two headaches per week over a long period of time, you should take it seriously.

Prolonged Headaches

Most headaches last a few minutes to a few hours. However, some can last for days. If you experience a headache that lasts much longer than any you’ve had in the past, you should talk to a doctor.

Headaches That Wake You Up

Pain so bad that it disrupts your sleep is always a concern. If you experience this pain level, you should talk to your doctor about it.

Throbbing Headache

Throbbing headache pain is often associated with migraines. Watch for other migraine symptoms, including nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. If you suddenly develop migraines, it might be a sign of another serious medical condition.

Intense Pain

If your headache pain feels like the worst headache you’ve experienced, you should talk to your doctor about it. Also, talk to your doctor if your normal headache remedies, such as over-the-counter (OTC) medications, aren’t effective.

Medication Headaches

If you experience headaches that start or worsen when you take OTC medications, you should talk to your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor if persistent or prolonged headaches cause you to use OTC medications beyond the label recommendations.

Headaches with Fever and Stiff Neck

A fever is a warning sign that your body is fighting an infection. You might experience a headache as part of a flu or other condition. One serious infection you should look out for is meningitis, which can cause a headache and a stiff neck and can be fatal if left untreated.

Headaches with Changes in Cognitive Function and Coordination

A stroke can cause headaches along with other symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes
  • Confusion
  • Speech difficulties

You should seek emergency care if you experience these symptoms alongside a headache. An untreated stroke can rapidly cause irreversible brain damage.

Types of Headaches Linked to TMJ

woman suffering from a TMJ migraine headache rubs her foreheadMany people experience headaches linked to TMJ. Three types of headaches associated with TMJ are:

  • Migraines
  • Referred Pain
  • Tension

Some patients may even experience multiple headache types with their TMJ.

Migraines and TMJ

Nearly 40% of people who suffer from TMJ also suffer from frequent migraines. The exact links between the conditions need clarification, but there are hints. The trigeminal nerve controls the jaw muscles and receives pain signals. It’s also a key trigger point for migraines. Jaw muscle pain and overstimulated jaw muscles can trigger migraines.

Trigeminal nerve stimulation can lead to the release of calcitonin gene-related proteins (CGRP). These can cause chronic pain conditions, including migraines. By preventing the release of CGRP and relaxing the jaw muscles with TMJ treatment, you can control and prevent migraines and other chronic pain conditions.

Referred Pain and TMJ

Your brain sometimes interprets pain coming from the wrong source. Your brain doesn’t have caller ID for pain signals, it has to infer the source of pain, and sometimes it gets it wrong, causing you to feel pain in one place when its source is elsewhere. Sometimes, your brain interprets jaw or tooth pain as a headache.

Tension Headaches and TMJ

The last type of headache people commonly experience due to TMJ is tension headache. These are similar to sore muscles. If you overwork your biceps at the gym, they’ll probably feel sore in the morning. If you overwork your jaw, it can cause pain in the jaw that extends to the temples – resulting in a tension headache. These types of headaches feel like they’re right behind the eyes. When the jaw muscles become too tense, the pain can extend to other nearby muscles in the face, which is how the tension headache forms.

Headache Relief in Lee’s Summit

With an accurate TMJ diagnosis and treatment plan, we can help reduce or eliminate your headaches. The Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea offers a wide range of treatment options to help meet the needs of every patient, including oral appliance therapy, an ALF appliance, trigger point injections, Rezzimax therapy, and more. We help people from Lee’s Summit, Independence, and surrounding communities.

We understand that the cause of your headaches might result from a neck injury. We work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, chiropractors, cranial osteopaths, neurologists, and massage therapists, to help mitigate your headaches.

We will also help you evaluate your diet and sleep regimen to determine if your habits cause frequent headaches or migraines.

We will help you get to the bottom of your frequent headaches and help you find a drug-free treatment that works for you, regardless of whether it’s with us. Please contact the Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea for a consultation with About the Doctors regarding your frequent headaches today. Call us at (816) 795-1000 to request an appointment.