ZocdocAnswersShould I see a doctor about my headache and stiff neck?

Question

Should I see a doctor about my headache and stiff neck?

i have a headache and stiff neck and feel like i have the flu. I have had the headache for a solid week.

Answer

I would strongly recommend that you see your doctor. This can be a concerning symptom that may even be life threatening. While often a minor condition -- this may be something very serious. A headache and stiff neck are classic symptoms of meningitis. Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges -- which is the outside lining of the brain and spinal cord. When this is inflamed, this causes neck stiffness and a headache. There are many different causes of this inflammation. A rare but very dangerous cause of this is a bacterial infection -- known as bacterial meningitis. This is VERY dangerous as the brain can be damaged. If you have any fevers this should be evaluated. Another, more likely, cause is that this is caused by a virus -- known as aseptic meningitis. This resolves on its own and rarely causes significant problems. This often accompanies the flu -- especially when it is caused by the influenza virus A or B. That being said, this needs to be evaluated. There are some other rare causes of this, like bleeding in the brain, but this is far less likely. I would recommend seeing your doctor right away. If you have any worsening symptoms please go straight to the emergency room. Good luck!

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