Wikipedia defines a cerebral or brain aneurysm as a “cerebrovascular disorder in which weakness in the wall of a cerebral artery or vein causes a localized dilation or ballooning of the blood vessel.” What this means is that a blood vessel in the brain can swell up due to its being weak. This swelling causing a pressure in the brain, resulting in a headache. When an aneurysm ruptures, it may cause sudden an extremely severe symptoms such as excruciating headache, nausea, visual impairment, vomiting and even loss of consciousness. An aneurysm rupture will occur very suddenly, without any warning.

When the blood vessel ruptures, it usually results in bleeding into the meniinges of the brain, or the brain itself. This leads to what is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage or and intracranial hematoma, either of which is a type of stroke. Immediate headache treatment is necessary if these types of symptoms are evident.

Aneurysms can be caused by congenital defects, high blood pressure, head trauma or “hardening of the arteries”. They can occur at any age, but are more common in adults and slightly more common in women Aneurysms require immediate medical attention. A surgical procedure takes place by a neurosurgeon, who in the past would clip the aneurysm. A more recent procedure is being performed by a neuroradiologist by placing coils in the aneurysm. This is a much less invasive procedure, and the coils inside the aneurysm block the blood flow and prevent it from bleeding again.

Arteries supplying the brain can undergo a tear in their inner lining known as a dissection. This tear can causes the formation of a pocket in the vessel which allows small blood clots to form. The blood clots can break free, eventually causing a blockage of a blood vessel in the brain, causing a stroke. Symptoms include headache that may mimic a migraine, visual disturbances, neck pain and transient ischemic attacks, so called mini strokes. Migraine sufferers appear to be at higher risk of developing a dissection, but we are not sure why. Treatment usually involves anti-platelet therapy to decrease the risk of clotting. There are a number of illnesses that can cause serious headaches. Headache treatment varies, but for this group, immediate attention is a must.