Headaches

There are many causes for headaches, which are sometimes accompanied by other symptoms. Follow this chart for more information.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Do you have a fever, cold symptoms, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?

  • Do you have a severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting, and does normal light hurt your eyes?

  • Have you injured your head or been knocked out recently?

  • Do you have numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms and legs, or do you have trouble speaking or understanding speech?

  • Do you have pressure around your eyes, or do you have congestion with yellowish-green nasal discharge and a fever?

  • Do you have mild to moderate pressure or tightening around your temples and does the pain occur during times of stress or after you have been sitting in one position for a long time?

  • Do you have intense throbbing pain, often with nausea or vomiting, and see flashing lights or spots before the headache?

  • Do your headaches occur after you read, watch TV, or use a computer?

  • Do you get headaches and feel shaky and weak if you miss a meal?

  • Are you trying to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, or some other drug?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You may have the cold or the flu or gastroenteritis (stomach flu).


    Self Care

    Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Use over-the-counter medicine to relieve cold and flu symptoms and for diarrhea.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have meningitis, a serious infection of the fluid around your brain and spinal cord, or intracranial hemorrhage, bleeding inside the brain.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a concussion, or a subdural hematoma, a serious condition caused by blood pushing on your brain.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may be having a stroke.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a sinus infection.


    Self Care

    Treat fever, headache, and a sore throat with over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. An over-the-counter decongestant and saline nasal spray may help relieve other symptoms. See your doctor if the pain becomes severe or your fever persists.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a tension headache.


    Self Care

    Use over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve pain. Getting plenty of rest, taking a hot shower and applying ice packs to painful areas may also help.


  • Diagnosis

    You may suffer from migraine headaches.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. He or she can diagnose your problem and may prescribe prescription medicine for migraines. In the meantime, use over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve pain. You can also rest in a dark room and apply ice packs and gentle pressure to painful areas.


  • Diagnosis

    Your headaches may be due to vision problems.


    Self Care

    See an optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye exam to see if you need glasses or contacts to correct your vision.


  • Diagnosis

    Your headaches may be from hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. You can also try eating six small meals a day rather than three large meals. This may regulate your blood sugar.


  • Diagnosis

    You may be suffering from withdrawal.


    Self Care

    Use over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve pain and discomfort. The symptoms should fade after a few days. Don’t restart your habit.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    Use over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve pain and discomfort. The symptoms should fade after a few days. Don’t restart your habit.