Symptoms of Headaches and Concussions

Headaches and concussions are accompanied by a variety of symptoms, depending upon the type of headache. Symptoms of headaches and concussions include:

Tension headache symptoms

Tension headaches are often characterized by:

  • Slow onset of head pain
  • Pain in both sides of the head
  • Dull pain that feels like a band or vice
  • Pain in the back of the head or neck

Migraine headache symptoms

Migraines are distinguished by the fact that symptoms other than pain occur, such as:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Light sensitivity and other visual disturbances
  • May occur with or without an aura phase, meaning it may involve:
    • Hallucinations
    • Numbness
    • Changes in speech or weakness

The aura phase is the second stage in the onset of a migraine, and is usually experienced by one in five migraine sufferers.

Cluster headache symptoms

Cluster headaches can cause:

  • Severe pain on one side of the head, usually behind one eye
  • A droopy, red or swollen eyelid or a small pupil
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Swelling of the forehead

Concussion symptoms

A concussion is an injury to the head that causes instant loss of awareness or alertness for a few minutes up to a few hours after the injury.

Mild concussion

Seek immediate attention if there is a cut or raised bump at the impact site, which may also be accompanied by these symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Change in sleep patterns or lethargy
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, problems with balance
  • Headache
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Nausea or change in sense of taste
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Moderate or severe concussion

Seek immediate attention if the head injury also includes these symptoms:

  • Blood or clear fluid draining from ears or nose
  • Difficulty walking or speaking
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Open wound or object penetrating the head
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizure or vegetative state
  • Severe headache that does not go away
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Uneven pupils