When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

It is difficult to find a person who would not be familiar with a headache, and painkillers can be found in every home first aid kit. After taking a pill, we forget the pain in a few minutes. But what if the headache doesn’t go away?

Headache is one of the most common symptoms. Almost every adult faces it. She worries someone from time to time; for others, pain in the head is a constant companion accompanying a person at almost every step: stress, lack of rest, missed meals, etc.

Always have a painkiller with you, and if necessary, quickly take a pill – a thing for granted. But there are situations when the head hurts even after taking painkillers. What does this mean?

Why does my head hurt, and the pain does not go away after taking painkillers?

Headache is a symptom that appears with certain disorders in the body. Different in intensity and localization, it can occur for many reasons. Some factors can be easily eliminated, leading to relief of the condition; in other cases, medical assistance is required, in the absence of which there is a risk of various complications.

Blood pressure

Headaches can be caused by either high or low blood pressure. In this case, a dull, squeezing pain appears, acquiring a pulsating character with any physical exertion, coughing, or stress. The head often hurts severely in the occipital or temporal zone, giving to the eyes or ears. The addition of nausea, at the peak of pain – vomiting, and episodes of disorientation are not excluded. 

But a headache caused, for example, by straining the neck muscles, can also cause a sharp and significant increase in pressure. In this situation, a not-too-strong headache can initially turn into intense pain that does not subside quickly. 

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

What to do? First, it is important to determine the blood pressure indicators using a tonometer. You should also eliminate the squeezing elements of clothing, provide access to fresh air, and take a horizontal position. Each patient with hypertension or hypotension should have the means for correcting pressure prescribed by the attending physician in the first aid kit. 

At high pressure, there is a risk of a hypertensive crisis, which, in turn, can lead to the impaired cerebral circulation. Therefore, if the head hurts a lot even after taking antihypertensive drugs, there is a sharp pain of a pulsating nature, nausea and vomiting appear, “flies” before the eyes, the pulse quickens, sweating increases, and urgent medical assistance is needed.

Stroke – acute cerebrovascular accident

With a stroke, against the background of a sharp and severe headache, there is numbness or weakness of the muscles of the face, and limbs, as a rule, on one side of the body. A person experiences difficulties with speech, hypersensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds appears, vision is disturbed, coordination of movements is disturbed, gait becomes shaky, and loss of consciousness is possible.

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

What to do? The ability to fully recover after a stroke depends on how quickly medical care arrives. Doctors talk about 3 “golden” hours when complications can be avoided. Therefore, the appearance of even a couple of the above symptoms is a reason to call the ambulance.


In this case, the headache is caused by the action of toxins released by pathogenic microorganisms entering the human body. The intensity of pain, its duration, and the ability to disappear under the influence of medications depend on the “culprit” of the disease. For example, 

  • With ARVI or flu, the pain is not too intense, more often localized in the forehead, temples, and eyes, and becomes less pronounced after taking painkillers. 
  • Coronavirus infection in the first wave was characterized by a headache that was difficult to respond to painkillers.
  • With meningitis, a sharp and throbbing pain appears, grows, it becomes unbearable. The temperature rises, photophobia, muscle weakness develops, convulsions, and confusion are possible. There are various symptoms characteristic of meningitis: tension in the neck, inability to turn or raise the head, pain in the neck when bending the legs in a horizontal position of the patient, etc.

What to do? It is important to determine the cause of the headache, taking into account the presence of certain symptoms, the epidemiological situation, and possible contacts of the sick person since this group of diseases can be transmitted to humans in different ways. Therefore, if the head hurts after taking painkillers, and instead of getting better, the condition worsens, you should immediately consult a doctor.

Sinusitis, sinusitis

Painful sensations occur in the forehead or eyes, aggravated by tilting the head or sudden movements. Nasal congestion, nasality, temperature, and possibly, but not necessarily, the appearance of copious discharge from the nose also join. Symptoms tend to get worse in the evening. Caused by a bacterial or allergic inflammatory process, such pain does not respond well to conventional painkillers. 

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

What to do? First of all, efforts should be directed toward the treatment of the underlying disease. Therefore, antibiotic therapy is recommended for the bacterial cause of the disease and antihistamines for allergies. You will also need drops to reduce mucosa’s swelling and evacuate the sinuses’ contents. It is possible to identify the cause of such pains only during the examination, after which the doctor must prescribe the necessary medications.

Brain tumors

With an increase in the tumor size, both benign and malignant, pain appears due to tissue compression. As a rule, painful sensations appear from the localization of the tumor. Headache in a malignant tumor can also appear due to intoxication of the body in the later stages of the disease. In this case, the painful sensations will not be concentrated in a certain place. Also, with a headache, in case of intoxication, the temperature rises, and a person experiences constant weakness, lack of appetite, nausea, etc. 

What to do? You can determine the cause of the headache during the examination. You should go to the doctor without delay since the growing tumor will compress the various centers responsible for vital functions. In addition, the lack of timely treatment for a malignant tumor reduces the chances of recovery.


Post-traumatic headaches can appear immediately after a head or neck injury or after a time (from several days to several months). Headaches can be daily or episodic, as well as migraine-like, lasting for several hours or days. In the absence of adequate treatment, a headache can disturb a person for several months, years, or even a lifetime. 

Post-traumatic pain in the head is accompanied by dizziness, double vision, nausea and vomiting, hearing impairment, and loss of consciousness is possible. In a later period, hearing and vision impairment, a change in smell, insomnia, increased sensitivity to light and loud sounds may appear, and memory and attention impairment, depression, etc., may occur. 

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

What to do? Treatment is important to start in the first hours after the injury; medications are prescribed depending on the type of injury: analgesics, antiemetics, muscle relaxants, decongestants, etc. Uncontrolled intake of analgesics during self-treatment can lead to chronic pain when attacks last for hours or days. In the absence of medical assistance, there is also a risk of serious complications: hemorrhage, brain contusion, edema, morphological changes in the structure of the brain, etc.

A head injury is one of the most common causes of neurological disorders that a person will have to treat for years if he does not see a doctor in time. Moreover, deterioration is possible against an improvement in the general condition. By the way, even after a minor injury, chronic pain has a progressive course even in the long term. 


Headache with migraine can last for hours and even days, often significantly reducing the ability to work. The pain can be localized on one side of the head, felt in the forehead, eyes, and temple, accompanied by increased sensitivity to light and loud sounds, dizziness, nausea, deterioration in attentiveness, and ability to concentrate. 

What to do? Migraine headache is practically not amenable to medication; only 10% of people manage to cope with an attack. What should the rest do? You can try to prevent an attack using the ability of a person a few days before the onset of a migraine to feel various smells and tingling in the body; some have visual anomalies, etc. During this period, it is important to normalize sleep, correct nutrition, eliminate heavy food for the body, and try to avoid stressful situations.

When the headache does not go away: what can it mean?

If a migraine attack cannot be avoided, the condition can be alleviated by eliminating the influence of external stimuli; suitable for this: a darkened room, the absence of loud sounds, massage, herbal teas, and aromatherapy. Of the medications for migraine attacks, sedatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and triptans are used. It is better if the medicines are prescribed by a doctor who can advise a more effective and modern remedy with minimal side effects. 

In conclusion

Thus, the causes of headaches can be very different. In some situations, a person facing pain in the head for many years (for example, with a migraine) eventually finds his own most acceptable way to alleviate the condition. Hypertensive patients or patients with low blood pressure are also often able to independently control the condition, taking the necessary measures in time.

It is much more difficult to adequately respond to an acute condition when the minutes are counting, and trying to fix the problem yourself can be very expensive. A stroke, a hypertensive crisis, a head injury, or meningitis are just cases when there is no time to take pills to alleviate the condition by playing roulette: it will help / will not help.

And then what to do? It is better to pass for a reinsurer, immediately seeking medical help but increasing your chances of a full recovery. Even better is regular check-ups. Let some conditions arise suddenly, and it is almost impossible to predict their appearance, but even more, pathologies develop gradually. By finding them in time, you can avoid serious complications.


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