DALLAS, June 30 (UPI) -- Intensity is not necessarily a sign of how serious headache pain is but there are red flags to watch out for, a U.S. neurologist says. Dr. Ahmed Jafri of the University of Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas says anyone who frequently uses pain medication to self-treat chronic headaches should seek medical help. "A headache may stem from a harmless problem, or it might be a sign of a life-threatening disorder," Jafri says in a statement. "There are certain red flags that should send a person to the doctor, or even an emergency room." Jafri says any of the following symptoms warrants immediate emergency attention:
-- A change in the character or pattern of existing headaches.
-- Explosive headaches.
-- Headache pain that increases in intensity.
-- New headaches in children or seniors.
-- "The worst headache of my life."
-- Headache with exertion, coughing or sex.
In addition, Jafri says a headache accompanied by fever and stiff neck, visual impairment, fainting, paralysis anywhere on the body, or bloodshot eyes with tearing and a runny nose requires medical care.