How to Differentiate Between Normal Headache and Brain Tumor?

brain tumor and headache -Sriramakrishnahospital

We all experience headaches from time to time and always wonder what might be the possible causes right. But often when you experience severe headaches then it can be a reason for concern. Not all headaches can be concerning especially when they do not have any additional symptoms. It is important to understand that not all headaches are due to brain tumors, but headache can be a symptom of brain tumor.

Why do headaches occur?

Headaches occur due to several things, it is just not restricted to one particular reason. It can be due to flu or cold. Sometimes you can also get headaches due to hunger, stress, or even not drinking enough fluids. At times even bad posture and eye problems can also cause headaches. We know all the weird reasons can cause headaches. And you can get headaches for any reason. Reach out to a headache specialist in Coimbatore if your headaches seem frequent and interrupting your daily life activities. 

What are the common types of headaches?

Tension headaches:

These are the most common type of headaches and are usually caused by muscle tension in the head and neck. They often present as a dull, steady ache on both sides of the head.


These are characterized by intense sharp pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes it can be associated with nausea and vomiting. Migraines are generally severe but not life-threatening in the majority of cases.

What are the common triggers for headaches?


Emotional or physical stress can cause tension headaches. Managing stress through relaxation techniques can help relieve symptoms.


Inadequate water intake can lead to headaches. Staying hydrated is important for overall health and can prevent headaches caused by dehydration.

Poor sleep:

Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can lead to both tension headaches and migraines. Following a proper sleep pattern is extremely important to prevent these headaches.

How to tell if a headache is a brain tumor?

Here’s good news, not all headaches are brain tumors. And also not all headaches are due to brain tumors. In a normal healthy person, headaches are quite normal. But headaches are the most common symptom of brain tumors. Majority of people who have brain tumors can experience headaches at some point.

The headache from a brain tumor is not directly caused by brain tumors, as the brain has no potential pain receptors. But usually headaches in brain tumors are generally caused by the pressure buildup in the brain nerves. This pressure build-up can press on the nerves causing severe pain in the form of headaches. It is also important to understand that headaches are just a symptom of brain tumor. 

How to differentiate between headaches and cancer causing headaches?

Persistent and abnormal nature of pain:


While common headaches usually get relieved with a few hours of rest or even in a day, headaches that take several days without relief may require immediate medical assistance. 


Persistent headaches caused due to brain tumors can be way more severe and shooting when compared to normal headaches. In case your headache is severe and painful than usual then diagnosis may be recommended. 

The symptoms accompanied with headaches in brain tumors:

Nausea and vomiting:

Headaches associated with persistent nausea vomiting, especially when there are no known triggers which can indicate an underlying issue.

Visual disturbances:

Changes in vision, such as double vision or blurred vision, may signal an underlying neurological condition, which should not be ignored. 

Neurological symptoms:

Weakness, numbness, or difficulty with coordination are neurological symptoms that may be associated with a brain tumor. These symptoms should be taken seriously and immediate medical treatment is important. 

Changes in the headache patterns:

Sudden onset:

While common headaches can usually have identifiable triggers, and in case your headache begins out of nowhere and without a trigger then it can be a reason for concern.

Changes in characteristics:

Usually normal headaches have similar patterns, but if you are experiencing headaches that are changing locations, severity, and frequency then you might need to talk to a doctor.

What are the types of headaches that a brain tumor can cause?

When the headaches are usually caused by brain tumor then it can show signs like:

  • No effect by painkillers
  • Worsens when you talk or bend over
  • It can worsen in the mornings

What are the other common symptoms of headaches due to brain tumor?

As mentioned, brain tumor head pain does not come alone; they are usually associated with several other symptoms. And headaches are not the first symptom of brain tumors as headaches can show after the brain tumor has progressed a little. Few other common symptoms can include:

  • Vision problems
  • Weakness or numbness in either side of the  body
  • Difficulties while walking or talking
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Trouble with sleeping

When should you seek medical attention?

Sudden and severe headache:

If you experience a sudden and extremely severe headache, it may be a medical emergency. Seek immediate attention. 

Neurological symptoms:

Any sudden onset of neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, seizures or paralysis, requires immediate medical attention. 

What are the diagnostic procedures that are recommended?

Imaging procedures:

In cases where the nature of headache is different from normal, imaging studies such as MRI and CT scans may be recommended to rule out any potential underlying issues. Consult the best brain tumor specialist in Coimbatore to seek immediate diagnosis and precise treatment.

Blood tests:

Blood tests can help rule out other potential causes for headaches and provide valuable information about your overall health. 

Important Takeaway:

While the majority of headaches are benign and can be managed with lifestyle adjustments and prescribed medications, it’s crucial to be alert about any changes in headache patterns. Distinguishing between a normal headache and a potential brain tumor involves paying attention to the duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, and any shifts in the usual headache patterns.

normal headache and brain tumor - Sriramakrishnahospital

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal to have headache everyday?
No, It is not good to get headache every day. But the Chronic headaches might be present for 15 days or more.
A brain tumour may cause headaches, however, this is rarely one of its symptoms. Headaches are typically dull, continuous, and occasionally throbbing. Most people experience headaches on occasion, which are usually caused by stress or tension.
Brain tumors can sometimes make it hard for people to learn, plan, make decisions, concentrate, and make decisions. This might be because of the location of the tumor in brain.
Sri Ramakrishna Hospital is renowned for providing top-notch treatment for brain tumors. With a team of highly skilled oncologists and cutting-edge technology, they offer the best possible care to their patients.
Sri Ramakrishna Hospital has the team of specialists offer a comprehensive range of treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and specific therapies. This ensures that they can provide personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs and improve the health of the patients.

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