When a Headache is Not Just a Headache

Knowing the lifestyle factors that put you at risk, especially if you, or an immediate family member have been diagnosed, are important. It is possible to dismiss this localized head discomfort as “just a headache.”

When would you and your doctor need to look closer at the cause of your headache? Smaller aneurysms usually don’t have symptoms. But as an aneurysm enlarges, it can produce headaches or localized pain. Ask yourself:

  • Does this headache respond to your usual headache therapy? If it’s not responding, do you need to increase the frequency or amount of the therapy?
  • Is this the worst headache you have ever had?
  • Did your headache come on suddenly and with alarming force or strength?
  • Do you have any symptoms you do not usually have with a headache? For example: Double vision, or unusual constriction of one or both pupils?
  • Do you not “feel yourself” or have you lost consciousness or memories as a result of your headache?

Greater than 95% of headaches are still due to a disorder like migraine, cluster, tension type, etc. Aneurysms are suspected only when a patient presents with a sudden onset, severe headache which may have additional symptoms like dropping of the eyelid, constricted pupils without a drug or botanicals action, and/or significant neck stiffness or becoming intolerant to light and noise.