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Getting a sudden headache is not uncommon.

In fact, it is quite common for people to get headaches once a week, with at least one serious headache occurring once a year. So if you’re experiencing discomfort, know that you are not alone.

If you are suffering from unexpected head pain, know that there are different kinds of headaches, which are caused by varying factors. This is because, this type of discomfort can vary in intensity, also can also range from annoying to debilitating.

On the topic of debilitating headaches, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, about 18% of women and 6% of men suffer from migraines. This causes one person to go to the hospital emergency room every 10 seconds. That’s quite something!

With this kind of information at hand, knowing what your headaches are telling you is crucial to figuring out what to do. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to review what there is to know about sudden headaches.

This is a particular kind of a headache that mean a great number of things depending on its location, intensity, and what other physiological symptoms it is paired with.

What is a Sudden Headache?

This kind of discomfort can often feel like it comes out of nowhere. You are going about your business when out of the blue, it hits you. While some migraines may start off as a sudden headache, it can also be light in nature, lasting only a few minutes.

It is important to understand that according to the National Institute of Health(1), not all unforeseen headaches are bad. In fact, some are quite normal, and may be a simple (if not annoying) response from your body.

Therefore, if you experience one of these, it’s important to note where it is happening, as the location of the pain can tell you a lot about why it is happening.


Sudden headaches can occur in certain parts of the head. If you look at a map of the head, and split the skull into four parts, you can see that there are clear points where they may come up.

For example, in the frontal part of the head, migraines, eyestrain, and sinusitis can all cause an unexpected headache. Conversely, the side of the head can also experience pain from migraines, ice pick headaches, and brain freeze. The top of the head can also experience ice pick headaches as well.

All of these types of headaches need no introduction, as the name says it all!

When to Get Medical Attention

If there is ever a point where you believe you need medical attention due to a sudden headache, then seek it out. Outside of making that call yourself, there are a few things to consider about an unforeseen headache that will make a difference in whether or not you should seek medical attention.

For example, is it severe? Is it accompanied by a stiff neck? Have you had a blow to the head recently that could be a factor? Do you now have frequent head pain after never having had it before? Again, according to the National Institute of Health, these are all reasons why you should consider going to see a doctor.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is knowing your body, and being aware of your own personal wellbeing and sensitivities. Although it is painful, if you start to experience this kind of agony repetitively, it is likely that you will be able to pick up a pattern of triggers that will help you to treat both the symptoms and the cause.

Treatment Options

The most common cure for an unexpected headache is time. Barring it being particularly bad, most people just let it run its course. In this case, taking time out to lie down with a hot compress can be very helpful.

Another treatment for a sudden headache is pain medication to help limit the symptoms you feel. This is a very common way to treat unforeseen pain, especially because it often strikes while you are busy, and still need to carry on with your day.

Sites like Reader’s Digest also have articles on natural remedies if you are not interested in going with over the counter or prescribed medication from your doctor. This is completely up to you.


This article has covered many of the main points that come with gaining a better understanding of what causes a sudden headache, and what to do about it.

By all means, do your research and educate yourself, but if you are in severe or chronic pain, its important to seek assistance from a medical professional.

This is because the causes of headaches are very broad, and you don’t want to risk not treating something that could be more serious!

Learn more about Sore Throat Headache