Even celebrities like Kanye West have to deal with annoying and sometimes debilitating head-pounders. Sources say that yesterday the rapper was taken to the emergency room with a serious migraine and had an MRI in a Melbourne hospital, where he's on the Australian leg of his Yeezus tour. The New York Daily News reports West developed an "intense" headache after playing basketball and was rushed to the hospital.
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It appears everything's fine now as West went on to perform his scheduled gig later that evening. A source for E! News says the ER visit wasn't tied to a seizure, as some news outlets reported; he "went to the hospital simply as a precaution."
Though the visit hasn't been confirmed by reps (or the star himself on social media), West was smart to get his head pain checked out. Excruciating headaches can sometimes be a warning sign of life-threatening health problems. While it's not that common, you should watch out for headaches that feel very different from normal.
Here are three scenarios where you should get immediate attention:
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You have a stiff neck and fever
These are hallmark symptoms of meningitis (often with nausea or vomiting, too), which is an inflammation of the membranes around your central nervous system, according to the Mayo Clinic. The most common cause is a viral infection, and viral meningitis usually gets better on its own, or with rest and fluids. Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, can be fatal. In this case, bacteria can cause life-threatening brain swelling, so you'll need antibiotics right away.
It's the worst pain of your life
If the sensation is worse than anything you've ever felt before, trust your gut and get it checked. A sudden, serious head-pounder could signal a brain aneurysm, a bulge that forms in an artery after trauma (like a car accident) or as the result of lifestyle factors including smoking, high blood pressure, or plaque in arteries known as atherosclerosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. While aneurysms themselves are painless, if they start to leak they can cause excruciating pain and potentially life-threatening bleeding in the brain.
You have difficulty talking, body weakness, or face drooping
Coupled with headache, these could be signs you're having a stroke, when an artery in the brain is blocked by a clot, or possibly leaks or ruptures, according to the NIH. Lack of blood flow in the brain can damage or kill brain cells, but rapid treatment with clot-busting drugs (generally within 3 hours of your first symptoms) can sometimes prevent the damage caused by a clot.