5 Possible Causes of Headache and Vomiting

There are many possible causes of a headache and vomiting. While they are all uncomfortable, many of these causes are not dangerous and will resolve on their own. However, if you are experiencing a sudden severe headache along with vomiting, it is possible that you are suffering from one of the several serious medical conditions that have a headache and vomiting as symptoms. If you don’t know the cause of your symptoms and have not experienced a headache of similar severity in the past, it is imperative that you seek medical treatment. The reason for your symptoms can range from a simple but a painful migraine to a life-threatening illness that requires immediate treatment.


A migraine Headache

If you are prone to migraines, you may recognize your headache and vomiting as symptoms of one. A migraine headache is a pulsing or throbbing pain and is sometimes preceded by visual disturbances that take the form of seeing flashing lights or spots. Over the counter, painkillers are available to help treat a migraine, and your doctor can prescribe prescription migraine medications. Other things that may help relieve suffering include resting in a darkened room and applying cold packs and gentle pressure to the areas that are painful.

Stomach Flu

A headache and vomiting are also common symptoms of influenza and the stomach flu or gastroenteritis. Other symptoms include a fever, aching muscles, fatigue, and weakness. The flu can be treated with antiviral medications, and both illnesses benefit from rest and abundant fluids to avoid dehydration. Over the counter cold and flu remedies can also help to relieve symptoms.


There are several more serious maladies that can cause a headache and vomiting. Meningitis, an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, is one very serious possibility. Other symptoms of meningitis are photophobia (sensitivity to light), a stiff neck, and a high fever. If you have these symptoms, or if you are unable to bend your neck so that your chin touches your chest, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Meningitis is a serious infection and can result in complications including hearing loss, brain damage, or death. It is extremely important that you seek prompt medical aid if you suspect you may have meningitis.

Brain Bleeding

Bleeding in the brain can also cause a headache and nausea. A subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding between the brain and skull, will present with a sudden and severe headache. Subarachnoid hemorrhage requires prompt treatment from a medical professional or it can be fatal. It is often, but not always, the result of accidental head trauma; you should seek emergency medical treatment any time you receive a head injury that results in severe pain and nausea. Traumatic brain injury and cerebral hemorrhages have the potential to cause lasting damage and even death.


Papilledema is another possible cause of a headache and vomiting. Papilledema is the swelling of the optic nerve, which is brought on by increased intracranial pressure. It is also accompanied by visual disturbances, such as a reduced field of vision or a transient loss of vision. Without treatment, papilledema can lead to blindness.

A headache and vomiting can be common symptoms of a variety of illnesses and injuries. A number of things may be causing them, and these are just a few of the possibilities. While not necessarily life-threatening, the combination of a headache and vomiting is a symptom of several serious illnesses, and should not be taken lightly. If you are unsure what is causing your symptoms, it is best to seek prompt medical treatment to avoid serious complications or even death. With appropriate and timely medical care, you can receive a proper diagnosis and treatment that will help you recover.

5 Possible Causes of Headache and Vomiting, Last Update: 8/5/2017

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