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Sharp Headaches May Not Be a Minor Issue

Many of us have experienced sharp headaches that are irritating or altogether unbearable. Yet, some remain complacent, believing that the condition is nothing major.  In fact, a sharp headache can be a warning sign for an unexpected disease.  If you have such a symptom, you need to have it checked by a doctor for a prompt treatment.

What is a sharp headache?

A sharp headache is a stabbing headache that is painful and annoying.  The level of pain differs from one person to another. For some, the condition is only intermittent; while for others, it may be constant agony.  There are many factors that cause a headache, and you should consult a specialist for a thorough examination.

What are the causes of sharp headaches?

There are many reasons for sharp headaches, such as:

Occipital Neuralgia is a type of headache that generally starts at the base of the head and spreads up to the top.  This may be due to an infection or injury that has severely impacted and damaged a nerve.

  • Trigeminal Neuralgia is a condition characterized by severe pain on one side of the face.  It is triggered by chewing food, talking, brushing teeth, or washing face.
  • Migraine is an intense throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.  Sometimes the pain can be sharp or dull in the temple and radiates to the eye socket.  It is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or seeing flashes of light before its onset, etc.
  • Cluster Headache is a series of severe pain on one side of the head – sharp and throbbing in the eye socket or behind the eye, and the temple – combined with red or watery eye, and runny nose.
  • Dehydration Headache, ranging from mild to severe, is dull or sharp pain all over the head.  It can occur at a certain area such as back, front or side of the head, and appears with other symptoms such as dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, cramp, etc.
  • Tension-Type Headache is a dull, squeezing pain around the upper neck that radiates to the temples and all over the head.  The symptoms can be a dull, numb headache; but, in some cases, the pain may be pulsating also. 
  • Stroke is an unbearable sharp throbbing pain on the left or right side of the head.  It is accompanied by other conditions that include drooped mouth, weakness in the arm and leg.  These symptoms indicate a risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic or thrombotic strokes which must be treated by a doctor immediately; otherwise, it can become life-threatening.

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Can sharp headache happen during sex?

Sexual headache can occur during a sexual activity – be it an intercourse, masturbation, or even oral sex.  The duration of the headache varies depending on the person.  Men are 3 times more likely to have this condition than women.  There are 2 types of sexual headache: a dull pain around the base of the neck and spreads to the head just before reaching orgasm; and severe pain – usually from upper neck, base of the head, the front, eye sockets, before spreading to the rest of the head.  Most importantly, if the pain is unbearable during sex, you must see a doctor urgently as it may lead to aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhages, and coronary artery disease.

How to treat sharp headaches?

When you experience a sharp headache, you should consult a doctor to determine its root cause.  If the condition is not serious, the doctor may simply prescribe a pain killer.  Further, to prevent future attacks, you should adjust your lifestyle: such as drinking more water to avoid dehydration, exercising to increase production of endorphin hormone, which is a natural pain reliever, working in well-lit area, checking your eyesight annually, having enough sleep, keeping your stress under control, as well as avoiding tea or coffee, smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc.

What kind of headache requires immediate medical attention?

If you are experiencing an unbearable sharp headache that you have never experienced before, you ought to see a doctor immediately.  In addition, if your chronic headaches have become more frequent than intermittent and the pain is so much that it awakens you at night, or your headache is now accompanied by other conditions (e.g., numbness, weakness in arm and leg, nausea, blurry or double vision, drooped face, loss consciousness), you need to see a doctor as urgently as possible.  Most importantly, do not purchase medication on your own. 

Neurologist specializes in treating headache

Dr. Kiratikorn Vongvaivanich, Neurologist and Neuropathologist, Bangkok International Hospital

Click here for appointment

Hospital specializes in treating headache conditions

The Neuroscience Center at the Bangkok International Hospital is well equipped to treat any ailment related to the brain and the nervous system.  Our specialists and multidisciplinary team of doctors are well-qualified.  Utilizing modern medical methods and technology, our goal is to treat the root cause and prevent it from recurring, while also rehabilitating the brain; as we fully recognize our patients’ complete well-being that includes both body and mind.