Headaches can come in many forms. Some are more severe than others. Although they can be painful, primary headaches are not dangerous and can be treated with different medications with varying degrees success. The patient must be aware, however, if the headache is indicative a more serious, potentially life-threatening, or even fatal condition.


Since 400 B.C., headaches have been classified into primary and secondary. Hippocrates classified headaches into these two categories. Secondary headaches should always be considered a sign of an underlying condition. Meningitis and other conditions that can cause a secondary headache include: infection, meningitis (cerebrovascular disease), brain tumors, head trauma, thyroid disease, TMJ (temporomandibular joints pain), glaucoma, and withdrawal from painkillers.

How to know?

How can we tell if a headache is primary and secondary? A secondary headache should be treated immediately by a physician. There are several factors that can help you recognize a secondary headache. A secondary headache can be identified by a number of systemic symptoms, including a higher body temperature, rash, swelling in the neck, or stiffness of the neck.

There are some risk factors that can lead to secondary headaches. The most common is old age. A person suffering from this type headache should seek medical attention to rule out cancer. A family history of brain hemorhages can make secondary headaches very dangerous. A sudden onset of a severe and painful headache could indicate that blood is leaking from the brain vessel. This is called subarachnoid hemorhage. It is a serious condition that can lead to blood clots and other complications.

Brain Problem

A headache sufferer who experiences extreme weakness, subtle weakness, vertigo, or feeling half of their body altered may have a brain problem that is causing headaches. In this instance, a neurologist should contact you. The symptoms can often be subtle and not obvious to the individual. A headache attack may not be something that is new. Primary headaches are common. It is important to check for any changes in the headache’s intensity.

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A new type of headache could also be a sign that something is wrong. Long-term headaches that last for more than a few days can indicate further complications.


Primary headaches are not usually life-threatening and can be treated quickly. It is better to be safe than sorry if a person has a headache. If you experience nausea, convulsions and pain in the eye, disorientation or fever, loss of consciousness, headaches, or vomiting, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.


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