6 Headache Red Flags & How to Treat Them

There’s nothing quite worse than an untimely, painful headache. Headaches have the power to ruin your entire day or worse case scenario, your entire week. Though some headaches are quite sudden in nature, most of the time you can feel a headache coming on. When you do feel one of these headache red flags coming on, it’s important to take action and stop it right in its tracks.

In this article, we’ll go over what headache red flags you need to be on the lookout for and also go over what you can do to make sure that warning sign doesn’t turn into a full-fledged headache.

What kind of headache red flags are there?

There are many different warning signs that can alert you to an oncoming headache. We’ll go through the most common ones.

Sudden Sinus Problems

If your eyes start getting watery and your nose begins to feel stuffy, it might be a sign that a headache is on its way. While these sinus symptoms can be the result of an allergy, or a cold, it’s usually accompanied by a headache. These types of headaches are called allergy headaches and sinus headaches.


The tummy-turning feeling of nausea is one of the most common headache warning signs. According to an American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention study found that from over 6000 people surveyed, 50% reported nausea and vomiting.


Aura is one of the biggest telltale signs that you have a migraine headache or cluster headache coming on. Aura can be described as temporary visual signs that you involuntarily see. Some common auras are flickering lights, spots, jagged lines and flashes of light.


Vertigo is the sensation of dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving. The intensity of the dizziness is often associated with the intensity of the oncoming headache. Vertigo can also be accompanied by nausea, meaning that there are multiple headache red flags warning you of an impending headache.

Neck Pain

Neck pain and headaches usually go hand in hand. Pain in your neck or upper back can be a sign that you’re already in the early stages of a headache or migraine. When your neck muscles tense up, it compresses nerves and vertebrae which can lead to tension headaches.

Mood Changes

Moodiness or fluctuating moods is often seen as a headache red flag. They usually happen in the prodromal phase or first stage of a migraine. Some moods or emotions you may experience include irritability, out of place excitement or finding yourself in a sudden depressive period.

What to do when you start seeing these warning signs

Once you start to see these headache red flags, it’s important to act quickly so they don’t develop into a migraine. We’ve listed some of the best early stage headache practices below.


When you’re facing an impending headache, the most obvious yet most ignored thing to do is rest. Most people begin to experience the early signs of a headache only to continue with the rest of their day with the hope that the headache will dissipate. While this might work, in most cases it only aggravates symptoms and makes the headache occur sooner.

Instead, take a timeout to relax and rest. Turn off the computer screen, put away the phone and take time to simply lie down and rest. If you can’t do that due to work or school, simply closing your eyes for a while and reducing your workload can do wonders for you and your aching head.

Stay stress free

Stress is one of the leading causes of headaches and the pressure of everyday life can culminate into an aching, throbbing migraine. While feeling stressed out is quite normal it’s important not to let stress get the better of you. When stress spirals out of control it can have drastic effects on both mental and physical health.

To keep stress levels low, remember to take time everyday to unwind, get proper sleep and practice breathing techniques. Doing so will make sure headaches do not occur regularly.

Stay hydrated

You might ask yourself how staying hydrated can prevent headaches. Interestingly enough, becoming dehydrated can lead to a headache known specifically as dehydration headaches. It’s more than enough reason to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.

There are other ways to stay hydrated than just simply drinking water. Replacing electrolytes with sports drinks is a great way to prevent dehydration. Putting a temporary stop to physical activity can also help as it prevents fluid loss from sweating.

Use heat & cold compresses

Both heat and cold compresses can help alleviate early symptoms of a headache. Placing a heating pad on your shoulders or neck pain can relax those muscles, reducing the symptoms of an early headache.

On the other side of the spectrum, a cold compress can be placed on the forehead to reduce throbbing pain and the dizziness associated with vertigo.

Get a massage

A sure-fire way to stop a headache in its tracks is a relaxing and soothing massage. Massages work by promoting movement in the muscles which increases blood circulation. It also works to relieve any tension which as we know, can lead to headaches.

You can receive massages from a professional massage therapist or from an electronic massager.

Don’t let these red flags turn into a full headache

Now that you know what kind of warning signs and headache red flags to look for, you can take immediate action to make sure they don’t turn into a full migraine. By noticing these and following our prevention steps, you can make sure headaches aren’t a regular occurrence in your life.

Was this article helpful? For more articles which focus on your wellbeing, head on to over the OSIM Wellness Hub! You’ll find different articles which are all made to help you live the best life possible.




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