In most cases,
headaches are not red flags of a serious medical condition, although they can certainly
be bothersome. When a headache does require emergency care, it’s
because of the possibility that a serious or life-threatening medical
condition is causing the headache. Stroke, meningitis, brain aneurysm,
and carbon monoxide poisoning are all examples of problems that can cause
headaches and require emergency care. Families in the greater Las Vegas
area can turn to MountainView Hospital—a Certified Primary Stroke
Center—for all sorts of medical emergencies.
abrupt onset of severe symptoms is one reason to call 911. When symptoms develop rapidly, emergency medicine
physicians must consider the possibility that the patient is suffering
a ruptured brain aneurysm or stroke. When these life-threatening problems
are the cause of a headache, the pain is often described as being “the
worst headache of one’s life.” Other warning signs of stroke
include slurred speech, confusion, one-sided weakness, and difficulty
walking. A ruptured brain aneurysm can cause confusion, stiff neck, blurry
vision, seizure, and loss of consciousness.
Aside from a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke, there are other medical
conditions that can cause a headache and other accompanying symptoms.
For example, malignant hypertension refers to the rapid onset of extremely
high blood pressure. Along with a headache, this can cause changes in
mental status, blurry vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, and weakness.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion,
fainting, and nausea. Meningitis can cause headaches, light sensitivity,
fever, stiff neck, confusion, and lethargy.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Even when a severe headache is not accompanied by other warning signs,
an ER visit may be called for in certain people. Those who have pre-existing
medical conditions such as HIV infection, other infections that compromise
the immune system, or liver, heart, or kidney disease may want to err
on the side of caution and see a doctor right away. Women who are pregnant
are also advised to exercise caution when unusual headaches develop, as
are those who have recently suffered a head injury.
For all of your emergency medical care needs, you can count on
MountainView Hospital. We are the leading providers of exceptional emergency medicine in Las
Vegas, including stroke care. If you might have a life-threatening medical
problem, please call 911 without delay; otherwise, you can reach a registered
nurse at our community hospital by calling (702) 233-5300.