High blood pressure is known to cause severe hypertension headaches, but aside from that there are no other obvious signs or symptoms of hypertension, earning it the name “silent killer”. Headaches caused by high blood pressure are not chronic, but when a person has an episode, it is usually quite severe. It takes a blood pressure of 200/100 or higher to trigger a headache episode (and there are surprising ways this can happen), and this can qualify as a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Unfortunately, since there are no other symptoms present to suggest the hypertension is causing the headaches, people who experience this type of headache often dismiss it as a regular headache and self-medicate. Oftentimes, hypertension is incidentally diagnosed when a person goes to see a doctor because of headache symptoms, unaware that they are hypertensive. This is why it’s important to consult a headache specialist when experiencing a headache that feels different than what you’re used to experiencing.
The Occurrence of Headache-causing Hypertension
The pain caused by hypertension headaches may range from mild to severe depending on how high a person’s blood pressure is at the onset of the headache. The headache itself is caused by a phenomenon called autoregulation. This process allows the body to determine and control its own blood supply. When a person’s blood pressure is elevated, autoregulation causes the blood vessels running through the tissue under the skull to constrict which is a common cause of headaches. It is also possible for people undergoing hypertension treatment to experience headaches. This is because some of the medications used to treat hypertension can also cause headaches. Checking the result of one’s blood pressure at the onset of the headache can be a good indicator if the headache is indeed caused by hypertension; however, it is also possible for pain to raise one’s blood pressure, so it’s really important to see a doctor to confirm any suspicions of hypertension.
Treating and Preventing Hypertension Headaches
Mild headaches caused by high blood pressure can be relieved by drinking a large glass of water together with painkillers you can get over the counter. If the headaches are more severe, applying a cool cloth to the head and sitting in a dark room can help lessen the pain. Hydration is also important to prevent headache symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and fainting from escalating. Treating headache symptoms provides temporary relief; however, the best way to treat hypertension headaches is to go directly to the cause of the problem. People diagnosed with hypertension are often put on a strict, but very healthy diet to regulate their blood pressure. This can also prevent headaches from occurring. Constant and consistent exercise is also highly recommended to help regulate a person’s blood pressure. Patients are recommended to begin with light physical activities which can be intensified once the body gets used to exercising and physical activity. A healthy diet, exercise, plus the effects of hypertension medication can help regulate blood pressure, and at the same time prevent the occurrence of headaches.
Treating or preventing headaches related to high blood pressure requires proper diagnosis. This is why it is important to consult a doctor or headache specialist if you suspect that you’re experiencing headaches and suspect that you are hypertensive in order to receive proper treatment for both the high blood pressure and the hypertension headaches that come with it.
If you’re experiencing any type of headache pain, schedule an appointment with one of our headache specialists immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.