Sometimes a headache is just a headache. And sometimes a headache is a sign of something much more serious, like a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage is when there’s bleeding between the brain and a thin membrane that surrounds the brain. It’s typically caused by head trauma, an aneurysm, blood thinning medications, or high blood pressure.
I see patients every day that complain of headache pain. But occasionally, a patient will come to me with what they describe as the “worst headache ever” and say it’s “unlike any other type of headache pain” they’ve experienced. If the patient tells me that the headache started suddenly (perhaps after a popping or snapping feeling in the head), is worse near the back of the head (at the base of the skull, in the suboccipital area), and that they had a loss of consciousness or I see a lack of alertness, I immediately become concerned that it’s a subarachnoid hemorrhage.