Topic Overview

Headaches are one of the most common pain-related health problems in women. You may have a headache along with another minor health problem, such as a sore throat, cold, or sinus problem. If your headache is mild and a type you have experienced in the past, there is little reason to be concerned. But a new or different headache, particularly later in pregnancy, may mean a problem such as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia (formerly called toxemia of pregnancy) is a pregnancy-related condition that causes high blood pressure and affects the mother's kidneys, liver, brain, and placenta. Its cause is unknown. Pre-eclampsia most commonly occurs during first pregnancies.

Symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:

  • Persistent headache.
  • Vision problems, such as blurred or double vision.
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen.
  • Swelling of the hands and face that does not go away during the day. Some swelling normally occurs during pregnancy, but it may indicate a problem if other signs of pre-eclampsia also are present.

Call your doctor if you develop a new or different headache while you are pregnant.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofMay 22, 2015