In many cases, headaches are not cause for alarm. People can experience headaches caused by eye strain, jaw clenching, stress, and even the overuse of over-the-counter headache medications. However, it is possible for a headache to signal a serious, perhaps even life-threatening medical condition. In these cases, it’s advisable for patients to get to the emergency room at the local hospital right away. To determine whether you may need emergency care at Regional Medical Center of San Jose , consider any co-occurring symptoms you may have.
Identifying Serious Causes of Headaches
One of the most serious causes of severe headaches is stroke, which requires rapid evaluation and intervention at the hospital. Stroke can occur when a blood clot obstructs circulation to the brain, causing the death of brain cells. It may also occur due to a ruptured aneurysm. Another possible cause of a severe headache is meningitis, which refers to the inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Meningitis is most often caused by a viral infection. If left untreated, meningitis can lead to severe complications and death. Other serious causes of headaches include elevated blood pressure, giant cell arteritis, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Evaluating Co-Occurring Symptoms
When a headache is caused by a serious underlying condition, patients may experience co-occurring symptoms. For example, stroke can cause weakness and numbness on one side of the body, along with confusion, dizziness, vision loss, and speech problems. The hallmark symptoms of meningitis are a high fever and a stiff neck, in addition to a headache. In some cases, a headache has an immediately identifiable cause, such as blunt force trauma or a penetrating injury to the head. Along with headache, a TBI can result in loss of consciousness and confusion.
Assessing the Onset of Symptoms
Generally, patients are advised to seek emergency care if they experience sudden, severe symptoms. For example, headaches associated with stroke develop rapidly and are often described as the worst headache a person has ever experienced.
For 24/7 emergency care in the San Jose area, you can rely on Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Our hospital is a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center that provides life-saving stroke care, including neuro-interventional radiology procedures. If you think you or a loved one might require stroke care , call 911 now. Otherwise, contact our hospital at (888) 762-8881.