Severe Head Pain
This mother of all headaches makes your bachelorette party hangover seem laughable. If you could laugh.
The culprit: Odds are, any jackhammering in your brain is just a migraine. But if it's not accompanied by other migraine symptoms (such as a visual aura), sudden and severe pain—we're talking the absolute worst headache of your life—it can signal a brain aneurysm. These arterial bulges occur in up to 5 percent of people, but most of the time they don't cause any trouble—you won't even know you have one unless the weak spot leaks or tears. If that happens, escaping blood can flood the surrounding tissue (causing a violent headache) and cut off the oxygen supply there. Smoking and having a family history of aneurysms increase your odds.
The fix: "A burst aneurysm can cause brain damage within minutes, so you need to call 911 immediately," says cardiologist Elsa-Grace Giardina, M.D., director of the Center for Women's Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Your doctor will take a CT scan to look for bleeding in the space around the brain. If he finds hemorrhaging, you'll head into the OR pronto for surgery to repair the blood vessel.
ON WOMEN'S HEALTH: Heal Your Headache With Yoga