typical presenting signs and symptoms


Family Medicine 18: 24-year-old female with headaches User: Ralph Marrero Email: ralph2888@stu.southuniversity.edu Date: March 9, 2022, 8:53 PM

Learning Objectives

The student should be able to:

Identify the typical presenting signs and symptoms of common as well as serious causes of headache (tension, cluster, brain tumor, intracranial hemorrhage, medication use). Perform a reliable focused neurologic exam on a patient who presents with a headache. Discuss the importance of continuity of care when treating a patient who presents with a chronic headache. Conduct a focused history and physical exam appropriate for differentiating between common etiologies of a patient presenting with headaches. Summarize the key features of a patient presenting with headache, capturing the information essential for differentiating between the common and “don’t miss” etiologies including tension, migraine, cluster, brain tumor, intracranial hemorrhage, medication use headaches. Propose a cost-effective diagnostic workup for a patient presenting with a headache. Describe the acute and prophylactic management of common headaches including migraine. Find and apply diagnostic criteria and surveillance strategies for substance use disorder.


Causes of Headache

Common types of headache seen in the outpatient setting:

1. Tension-type 2. Migraine 3. Medication overuse 4. Cluster headache

Serious causes of headache:

1. Meningitis 2. Brain tumor 3. Intracranial hemorrhage 4. Traumatic brain injury

Causes of Serious Secondary Headaches

Etiology of secondary headache


Meningitis Headache with fever, mental status changes, or stiff neck.

Intracranial hemorrhage Sudden onset of headache, severe headache, recent trauma, elevated blood pressure.

Brain tumor Cognitive impairment, weight loss or other systemic symptoms, abnormal neurologic examination.

Traumatic brain injury

Head injury with subsequent confusion and amnesia. Loss of consciousness sometimes occurs. Subsequent headache, dizziness, and nausea, and vomiting. Over hours and days: mood and cognitive disturbances, sensitivity to light and noise, and sleep disturbances.

Common Etiologies of Secondary Headaches

1. Headache due to depression or anxiety


© 2022 Aquifer, Inc. – Ralph Marrero (ralph2888@stu.southuniversity.edu) – 2022-03-09 20:53 EST 1/9



Similar to tension-type headache: Bilateral, pressing, and/or tight Last from 30 minutes to seven days

Some experts feel that depression or anxiety can trigger tension-type headaches. In those cases, tension-type headaches are considered secondary, not primary headaches. 2. Medication overuse headache

Chronic use of any analgesic can cause this type of headache in patients with pre-existing primary headache—it is an interaction between a therapeutic agent used excessively and a susceptible patient. Features

Mild to moderate in severity Diffuse, bilateral headaches that can occur almost daily and are often present on first waking up in the morning. Often aggravated by mild physical or mental exertion. Can be associated with restlessness, nausea, forgetfulness, and depression. Headaches may improve slightly with analgesics but worsen when the medication wears off. Tolerance develops to abortive medications and there is decreased responsiveness to preventive medications. Medication overuse headache can occur at varying doses for different types of medication; it may occur with as low as an average of 10 doses of triptans per month.

"Order a similar paper and get 15% discount on your first order with us
Use the following coupon

Order Now