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Most headaches aren’t serious and can be treated easily. People get them for no particular reason, and sometimes there is a specific cause.

Common causes include: tiredness, dehydration, stress, an illness such as flu, or exposure to extremely hot or cold temperatures.

Watch our video - Headaches

What to look for - Headaches

Headaches can also be a sign of more serious conditions, such as meningitis, stroke, or the result of a head injury.

If someone has other symptoms, or their headache started after a bad blow to the head, then tell them to see a doctor straight away.

What you need to do - Headaches

If someone has a headache, help them to sit or lie down somewhere quiet, and give them something cold to hold against their head. This could be a bag of peas, or ice wrapped in a cloth, or a cold compress if you have one (apply for no more than ten minutes).

• For adults, you can suggest they take the recommended dose of pain killers, like paracetamol tablets.

• For children, you can give them the recommended dose of paracetamol syrup.

• If they have other symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, loss of responsiveness, a stiff neck, or sensitivity to light, then tell them to see a health care professional as soon as possible.

• If they’ve got the headache after a head injury they should also see a health care professional straight away.

• If the headache is not settling and you are concerned, advise them to seek help.

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