Symptoms and Signs of Worst Headache of Your Life

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

Doctor's Notes on Worst Headache of Your Life

Almost everyone suffers headaches occasionally, but in rare instances a headache may be a symptom of a life-threatening problem. The "worst headache of your life" may be a sign of a medical emergency such as a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage (a type of bleeding in the brain).

Symptoms of the different types of headaches include a throbbing, sharp, or aching pain in the head or upper neck; visual changes, fever, nausea, vomiting, headache that involves one or both sides of the head, a "prodrome" (a group of symptoms) preceding a migraine headache, and a rapid onset of the headache. See a doctor immediately for “the worst headache of your life,” especially if you rarely suffer from headaches, the headache is associated with a fever and/or stiff neck, if more than one family member has a headache at the same time (carbon monoxide exposure could be a possibility), if you have been diagnosed with migraines but your treatment is not working or if the intense headache differs in character from your usual migraine headache, if the headache is very sudden in onset, or for any headache that is debilitating and clearly out of the ordinary.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.