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First Aid for Head Pain

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Head Pain is a feeling of pain localized to the head. It can be caused by many factors.

What is Head Pain?

  • Head Pain is a feeling of pain localized to the head. It can be caused by many factors including stress, trauma, infections, or brain tumors
  • Minor cases of Head Pain may be treated using over-the-counter painkillers, while severe and recurrent pain may need to be evaluated and treated by a healthcare expert

What are the Causes of Head Pain?

The cause of Head Pain may be due to several reasons and may include:

  • Stress, tension
  • Head injury
  • Dehydration
  • Change in eye prescription
  • Sinus infection (acute and chronic sinusitis)
  • Aneurysms (abnormally-dilated blood vessels in the brain)
  • Ice cream (freeze headaches)
  • Withdrawal from drugs
  • Sex (post-coital headache)
  • Meningitis and encephalitis (infectious and non-infectious causes)
  • Tumors in the head or brain

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Head Pain?

The signs and symptoms of Head Pain may include:

  • Sharp or dull pain in the head
  • The pain may be continuous or sporadic
  • Associated signs and symptoms of the underlying cause may be present

If the condition is severe, then the following may be observed:

  • Sudden and severe pain that continues to worsen
  • Severe head pain that wakes one up from deep sleep
  • Headaches that recur and are persistent
  • The pain is accompanied by fever, confusion, vision loss, or slurred speech

How is First Aid administered for Head Pain?

First Aid tips for Head Pain:

  • Consider talking over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (for adults)
  • In some cases, drinking coffee or soda in measured quantities, may be beneficial
  • Use a heat pad or an icepack
  • Rest or sleep for a while; or, consider other relaxation methods
  • Do not take any heavy meals
  • Limit exertion and any strenuous activities for the next 24 hours
  • Consider a head massage or suitable therapy
  • Seek medical help, if the pain:
    • Is recurrent and severe
    • Is associated with a fall injury or an accident that caused injury to the head
    • Occurs with fever and other symptoms including nausea, confusion, rash, red eyes, blurry vision, problem speaking, seizures, dizziness, paralysis, numbness, stiff neck, or loss of consciousness
    • Worsens over time and/or persists for several days
    • Affects a new/different part of the head

Who should administer First Aid for Head Pain?

First aid for Head Pain can be administered by the affected individual or by any medical health personnel. However, in case of a chronic condition, it is better to get the Head Pain evaluated by a healthcare professional.

What is the Prognosis of Head Pain?

  • The prognosis of Head Pain is usually dependent on the underlying cause of the condition
  • In many cases, the prognosis is good with adequate and early treatment

How can Head Pain be Prevented?

Head Pain may be prevented by considering the following factors:

  • Periodic eye-checkup
  • Keeping oneself well-hydrated
  • Maintaining general good health

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Take OTC painkillers
  • Monitor pain frequency and severity; seek help, if the pain worsens
  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 28, 2017
Last updated: March 5, 2018