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This could a sign of temporal arteritis, an inflammation of the arteries that occurs almost exclusively in older adults.

A new headache in a cancer patient doesn't necessarily demand a trip to the ER but should be seen promptly by the patient's own doctor.

Shingles (herpes zoster) around the eye or forehead can cause permanent damage to eye and vision loss. You have a severe headache plus pain and tenderness on your scalp, temples and jaw.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, even an agonizing headache is not serious and doesn't mean you have a brain tumor," says Brian M. D., associate professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and codirector of its famed Montefiore Headache Center, in the Bronx, N. "An over-the-counter pain reliever, a cup of coffee or a nap usually brings relief." Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

How can you tell whether it's a true headache emergency? If you ever spot one, call 911 or get yourself (or your loved one) to an emergency room — stat. Called a "thunderclap headache," this sudden, excruciating pain, which reaches maximum intensity within seconds to a minute, may signal the rupture of a brain aneurysm, when a blood vessel in the brain tears, cutting off the blood supply to a part of it. A headache coupled with confusion, dizziness, memory loss, slurred speech, loss of balance, weakness on one side of the body, seizures or blurred or double vision could signal a stroke or brain tumor, so always demand prompt medical action. You're 50-plus and this is your first-ever acute headache.

Left untreated, it can lead to irreversible vision loss. But other kinds of headaches do happen more frequently in older people — and a few only occur in those over 50.

Last modified 22-Dec-2017 10:04