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Unusual Headache Symptoms

author image Kristie Jernigan
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.
Unusual Headache Symptoms
Your headache may come with other symptoms. Photo Credit: kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

Millions of people suffer from headaches. There are many types including, migraine, cluster, and tension or stress headaches. Most can be treated and controlled, but some headaches are caused by more serious problems like brain tumors. There are some unusual symptoms that can occur with headaches, and they may be warning signs of more serious problems.

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Severe Pain

Usually headaches only cause mild pain, and the sufferer is able to take aspirin or another over-the-counter pain medication to relieve it. However, some sufferers complain of severe pain on the left or right side, front or back of the head or around areas like the eyes. This type of pain can sometimes be seen in migraine or cluster headache sufferers. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, the pain may be described as burning, sharp or steady. The pain may be so severe that the person cannot move. Some people have such severe pain that they have to go to an emergency room for immediate treatment and pain relief. Pain can also be a sign that you have bleeding in the brain or a brain tumor. If the pain is severe, it should always be checked out by a physician.

Facial and Nasal

Sometimes during a headache a person may have swelling around the eyes or nose. The nose may become runny or congested, and the eyes may look red and irritated, similar to an allergic reaction. A person can also feel very hot, have a flushed look to her face and begin sweating profusely. As the headache progresses, she may become pale and have cold, clammy skin. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, some people may have a droopy eyelid, numbness on their face or have a pupil that is not reactive to light. This can be a concerning sign of a neurological disease, and the person should seek immediate medical help.

Mental and Mood Changes

Mental changes have also been known to occur with headaches. However, this is usually an important sign that the person may have something wrong with his brain such as bleeding in the brain. According to, some people may experience a loss of memory, confusion or even unconsciousness. With a loss of memory and confusion, a person may have difficulty answering simple questions. She may not remember her name or where she lives. Some patients experience depression or extreme sadness during a headache episode. The mood changes can also occur just before the headache begins. Some people even see this mood change as a sign that they are about to have a bad headache. Any of these symptoms should immediately be reported to your physician.

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