First Aid for Headache

Last updated Aug. 30, 2017

What is Headache?

  • A Headache is a pain that is localized to the head. It is a very common condition, especially in adults
  • There are several types described, such as tension and migraine Headaches. In most cases, the pain may be treated through over-the-counter painkillers and adequate rest

What are the Causes of Headache?

A Headache may be caused due to:

  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Insomnia; inadequate sleep
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Infrequent meals
  • Dehydration
  • Migraine or sinus infection
  • Cluster or tension headache
  • High blood pressure

Rarely, it may be caused by serious conditions, such as meningitis, swelling of brain tissue, malaria, aneurysm, stroke, or a tumor in the brain.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Headache?

A Headache may be accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain in the head, which may be in the forehead, behind the eyes, on oneside, may radiate to the neck or face. It can be of various types, like dull, throbbing, stabbing, or burning; it may also be constant or intermittent
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Feeling anxious or stressed
  • Could be associated with symptoms of cold and fever, in case of a sinus infection
  • It can also have neurological signs and symptoms, if it is associated with intracranial pathology
  • Vision disturbances; impaired visual acuity can cause Headaches

How is First Aid administered for Headache?

First Aid tips for Headaches include:

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as tylenol, aleve, or ibuprofen
  • Hydrate; take plenty of fluids
  • Try to relax and rest
  • Wear eye glasses persistently; if you are advised to wear one
  • If Headaches are frequent, record the frequency, severity, and timing of headaches and seek medical help. Also note, if there is any association to food/caffeine-intake/withdrawal etc.

Seek medical help immediately, if:

  • Headache is so severe that it affects your functional capacity
  • It is accompanied by high fever
  • There is a head injury
  • High blood pressure
  • If the onset is sudden and, if the Headache is severe
  • It is recurring
  • It is accompanied by blurry vision, vomiting, difficulty communicating and/or moving limbs, stiff neck, confusion, and/or loss of consciousness

Who should administer First Aid for Headache?

The individual experiencing the Headache or someone near the affected person may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Headache?

The prognosis is dependent on the underlying cause of the Headache, but it is usually good.

How can Headache be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Headaches:

  • Take steps to avoid/prevent/reduce stress
  • Get adequate rest
  • Hydrate and eat meals regularly
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise; avoid alcohol

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Relax and hydrate
  • Monitor frequency and severity of Headaches
  • Get your eye examined, at least once a year
  • Seek immediate and appropriate medical attention, if necessary (as outlined above)

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

National Headache Foundation
820 N. Orleans, Suite 411 Chicago, IL 60610-3131
Phone: (312) 274-2650
Toll-Free: (888) NHF-5552 (643-5552)
Email: info@headaches.org
Website: http://www.headaches.org

American Headache Society® (AHS) Committee for Headache Education (ACHE)
19 Mantua Rd., Mount Royal, NJ 08061
Phone: (856) 423-0043
Fax: (856) 423-0082
Email: achehq@talley.com
Website: http://www.achenet.org

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003024.htm (accessed on 11/13/2013)

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/headache.htm (accessed on 11/13/2013)

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Simons, F. E. R. (2004). First-aid treatment of anaphylaxis to food: focus on epinephrine. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113(5), 837-844.

Markenson, D., Ferguson, J. D., Chameides, L., Cassan, P., Chung, K. L., Epstein, J., ... & Singer, A. (2010). Part 17: First Aid. Circulation, 122(18 suppl 3), S934-S946.

Rasmussen, B. K., & Olesen, J. (1992). Symptomatic and nonsymptomatic headaches in a general population. Neurology, 42(6), 1225-1225.

Stafstrom, C. E., Rostasy, K., & Minster, A. (2002). The usefulness of children’s drawings in the diagnosis of headache. Pediatrics, 109(3), 460-472.

Delfini, R., Salvati, M., Passacantilli, E., & Pacciani, E. (2000). Symptomatic cervicogenic headache. Clinical and experimental rheumatology, 18(2; SUPP/19), S-29.

Guerrero, Á. L., Rojo, E., Herrero, S., Neri, M. J., Bautista, L., Peñas, M. L., ... & Fernández, R. (2011). Characteristics of the first 1000 headaches in an outpatient headache clinic registry. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 51(2), 226-231.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 13, 2013
Last updated: Aug. 30, 2017

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