The No. 1 Sign You're Not As Healthy As You Think You Are, Studies Show
This silent symptom could be trying to tell you something.
Typically, health complications come with symptoms that indicate that something is off, but sometimes illness creeps up on us silently. One of the most common—and often benign—human conditions is a headache. Everyone gets the occasional headache, which is generally nothing to be alarmed about. However, if you experience chronic headaches or migraines, it could be a sign of an array of health issues.
If you consider yourself healthy but experience headaches frequently, you may want to check in with your body. There are multiple types of headaches that result in varying degrees of impairment. Headaches can range from a dull ever-present throbbing to a pounding sensation that comes and goes—either way—if you are experiencing them often, you should consult your doctor. According to studies, frequent headaches could be caused by one of these serious illnesses. And to see if your headache could be due to COVID-19, check out How to Tell If Your Headache Is Actually Coronavirus.
There is a lot of evidence linking headaches, migraines specifically, to cardiovascular disease. A 2006 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that in a group of more than 27,000 healthy women over the age of 45, those with migraines were at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and a major cardiovascular event. And for more information on silent symptoms you need to know about, check out 30 Signs of Deadly Health Conditions Hiding in Plain Sight.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system, according to the Mayo Clinic. MS generally manifests in muscular issues but, at first, may only appear as a frequent headache. A 2018 study published by European Neurology found that 78 percent of MS patients experienced headaches that improved after six months of treatment. To learn more about MS, check out This Is What It's Like to Live with Multiple Sclerosis.
Headaches can be a symptom of epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures. A 2012 study in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that headaches were more common in patients with epilepsy than in the population at large. According to the study, 60 percent of epileptic patients reported experiencing headaches during the year prior. The researchers insist this link is important to note because "headaches often receive less attention than the more acute and dramatic symptoms of seizures… This insufficient attention adds significantly to the burden of epilepsy."
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that results in widespread body pain, fatigue, and issues with sleep, memory, and mood, according to the Mayo Clinic. A 2005 study, published by Clin Rheumatol, found that 76 percent of treatment-seeking fibromyalgia patients reported experiencing chronic headaches.
Another study published in 2018 by The Journal of Headache and Pain cited a link between migraines, fibromyalgia, and depressive symptoms. If you're experiencing any combination of body pain, headaches, and depressive symptoms, talk with your doctor. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.