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Should You Go To The Doctor For A Migraine

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

When To Consult A Doctor About Headaches
  • Will my child grow out of their migraines?
  • What medications do you recommend for me?
  • What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
  • Should I get tested?
  • What type of migraine do I have?
  • What can my friends and family do to help?
  • Are my migraines considered chronic?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.


How Are Headaches Treated

Provided one of the serious conditions noted above is not present, relatively simple treatment options can be considered. To treat symptoms and prevent the frequency and severity of headaches, physicians may try to identify headache “triggers,” such as stress or certain foods, and recommend treatment options including:

  • preventive medications and treatments.
  • lifestyle changes, including stress management and relaxation techniques.
  • pain-relieving medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Children and adolescents should avoid taking aspirin. In rare cases, aspirin can cause Reye Syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal condition.

If your headache is the result of an underlying medical condition or injury, your physician will discuss treatment options with you.

What To Tell Your Doctor About Your Headaches

According to the headache expert Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, a professor of neurology at the UCLA Goldberg Migraine Program in Los Angeles, a valuable tool in diagnosis is your headache history.

A thorough history, aided by your detailed notes, can pinpoint causes, triggers, and even potential solutions. Make careful notes about your headache experiences before you go to the doctor. Include the following:

  • When the headaches occur
  • What, if anything, makes them feel better or go away
  • Whether sound, light, or noise bother you during headaches
  • Whether there are any changes in your vision before or during headaches, such as blurriness, black spots, or flashes of light
  • How well you slept the night before your headache
  • If you are a woman, when your headaches occur in relation to your menstrual cycle
  • Any unusual weather at the time of your headaches
  • Food or drink that you have consumed in the 24 hours before the headache
  • Activities you were engaging in when the headache began or just prior to it
  • Previous headache diagnoses and treatments youve tried

Dr. Goadsby recommends using a monthly calendar so that the pattern of headache days is clearly visible to you and your doctor.

If you are having severe or disabling headaches, dont wait a full month to call for an appointment make notes about what you recall or are experiencing and see a doctor as soon as you can.

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How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or Just A Bad Tension

Compared with migraine, tension-type headache is generally less severe and rarely disabling. Compare your symptoms with those in this chart to see what type of headache you might be having.

Migraine vs. bad tension-type headache

Aura before onset of headachex

Note: Rebound headache may have features of tension and/or migraine headache. Adapted from a table produced by the American Council for Headache Education.

Although fatigue and stress can bring on both tension and migraine headaches, migraines can be triggered by certain foods, changes in the body’s hormone levels, and even changes in the weather.

There also are differences in how types of headaches respond to treatment with medicines. Although some over-the-counter drugs used to treat tension-type headaches sometimes help migraine headaches, the drugs used to treat migraine attacks do not work for tension-type headaches for most people.

You can’t tell the difference between a migraine and a tension-type headache by how often they occur. Both can occur at irregular intervals. Also, in rare cases, both can occur daily or almost daily.

Otc Treatments For Nerve Pain

" What

Over-the-counter painkillers may be the first treatment your doctor recommends. These may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — such as ibuprofen — or other analgesics, such as acetaminophen or prescription medicines. Other options include painkilling creams, ointments, oils, gels, or sprays that are used on the skin.

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I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated

Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.

Why Headaches Can Be So Costly For Us All

If you can avoid going to hospital unnecessarily when you have a headache, youll benefit yourself and Australias health-care system.

Every time you present to an emergency department, it costs you hours of your life, and the community an average of A$561.

Seeing your GP is obviously more time-efficient and instead costs the community between A$38 to A$75.

If headaches interfere with your life, please prioritise your health. See a doctor, get a management plan for them and save yourself a painfully long wait in emergency.

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Urgent Care Clinic Vs Emergency Room

Emergency departments are open 24/7 and can help with all types of medical emergencies, while urgent care clinics are typically open seven days a week, with extended hours.

Migraine is classified as a non-life-threatening medical condition but still warrants high-priority care. If you want to avoid outrageous medical bills and the long wait times associated with emergency room visits, seeking treatment at an urgent care facility is your best bet. Urgent care is a more cost-effective and affordable option for both insured and noninsured patients. Urgent care clinics accept most major insurances, but also offer fair and upfront pricing for self-pay patients. Furthermore, urgent care facilities tend to be less crowded than a hospital ER. This translates into shorter wait times, allowing you to be seen by a healthcare provider much more quickly. Additionally, patients are usually discharged faster in urgent care clinics.

Its worth keeping in mind that urgent care clinics are also manned by emergency medicine physiciansthe same type of healthcare professionals attending to patients in emergency rooms. Thus, you can rest assured that the quality of care will receive is the same.

Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse

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In some women, birth control pills improve migraine. The pills may help reduce the number of attacks and their attacks may become less severe. But in other women, the pills may worsen their migraines. In still other women, taking birth control pills has no effect on their migraines.

The reason for these different responses is not well understood. For women whose migraines get worse when they take birth control pills, their attacks seem to occur during the last week of the cycle. This is because the last seven pills in most monthly pill packs don’t have hormones they are there to keep you in the habit of taking your birth control daily. Without the hormones, your body’s estrogen levels drop sharply. This may trigger migraine in some women.

Talk with your doctor if you think birth control pills are making your migraines worse. Switching to a pill pack in which all the pills for the entire month contain hormones and using that for three months in a row can improve headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as getting on a regular sleep pattern and eating healthy foods, can help too.

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Where Else Besides The Head Does Migraine Manifest In The Body

While head pain is often typical of attacks, migraine symptoms show up throughout the body, and as strange as it might sound, you can even experience a migraine attack without head pain. Although the head is the most common region for discomfort, the neck is runner-up, followed by other facial areas like the jaw, cheek, eyes, and ears.

But the discomfort isnt limited to the top of the body the entire body often feels the attack, with fatigue and muscle aches. The digestive system can be affected during the course of a migraine, with nausea and even vomiting. Additional symptoms include tingling and numbness of the extremities, and skin and hair can become painfully sensitive . The sheer length of this list of symptoms and manifestation all over the body are clear indications that what youre not just suffering from a bad headache, but youre likely experiencing migraine.

When To See A Doctor

If you have any type of headaches consistently, its important to speak with your primary care physician so they can help create a treatment plan or refer you to a specialist.

“If your headaches are increasing in frequency or severity, or are interfering with your usual activities, see a doctor,” says Dr. Andiman.

Seek immediate medical attention if youre experiencing the worst headache youve ever had, lose vision or consciousness, have uncontrollable vomiting, or if your headache lasts more than 72 hours with less than 4 hours pain-free.

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Migraines: Should You Go To An Urgent Care Or The Hospital Er

Migraine is a complex condition characterized by severe, episodic, and unilateral headaches , which are often accompanied by a host of other debilitating symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, muscle weakness, and blurry vision. Migraine episodes can last between four and seventy-two hours, hence making carrying out even simple day-to-day activities especially difficult.

If youre living with migraine and wondering where you should go in the event of a migraine attack and its already beyond your primary care physicians office hours, you have two options: an urgent care clinic and a hospital ER.

There are several differences between urgent care and emergency care facilities that are worth considering. These differences can help you determine which type of facility you should go to for your care.

Can Migraine Be Worse During Menopause

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If your migraine headaches are closely linked to your menstrual cycle, menopause may make them less severe. As you get older, the nausea and vomiting may decrease as well. About two-thirds of women with migraines report that their symptoms improve with menopause.

But for some women, menopause worsens migraine or triggers them to start. It is not clear why this happens. Menopausal hormone therapy, which is prescribed for some women during menopause, may be linked to migraines during this time. In general, though, the worsening of migraine symptoms goes away once menopause is complete.

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When Is A Headache Serious

Typically, when patients come to the emergency room complaining of a headache, there is a simple explanation to explain it and a simple treatment to nurse it. However, there are times when a headache can merely be a symptom of a larger concern. In general, the time to go to the emergency room is when there are symptoms that are unusual and new to the patient.

Headaches can be symptoms of problems like stroke, meningitis, or aneurysms, so an ER visit may be necessary to rule out any serious concerns. In addition, if you have any preexisting conditions like kidney problems, autoimmune diseases, and/or heart issues, you may want to go to the ER to check on a headache to make sure new problems have not arisen with your condition.

At What Point Should I See A Doctor

Now that you suspect what youre experiencing is migraine, it might be time to seek medical care. The things that really should be considered when deciding to take migraine care to the next level and meet with a physician are attack duration, attack severity, and attack frequency, says Amaal J. Starling, MD, associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

If youre experiencing severe attacks that are poorly treated with over-the-counter medication, or its taking too long to get relief, a doctors visit is the next step. Dr. Starling wants her patients to be able to get back to life within two hours after taking medication. If your routine medications arent fitting this bill, then seeing a physician for migraine-specific medication and more effective treatment options is crucial.

Amaal Starling, MD, headache specialist at Mayo Clinic

Severity of symptoms and interference with daily living were a common thread when we asked our community how they knew it was time to see a doctor. For Carmen O., it was having multiple auras per week, while dizziness and losing balance, were factors for Connie N. Slurring my words at work while interviewing a client, was startling enough for Mayusa H. to seek medical care.

Dr. Starling draws the line at four or more migraine days per month warranting a visit so you can be considered for both preventive and acute treatment options to better manage the disease.

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Alternatives To Going To The Er With A Migraine

Given all the unpleasant and dramatic stories about ER treatment, you may be wondering: what’s the alternative? If it’s a scary attack with new complications, going to the ER with a Migraine is your safest bet. If it’s an intractable Migraine that won’t respond to treatment at home, you have a few options.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine

When to see a neurologist for headaches or migraines | Ohio State Medical Center

Many people who have migraines feel vaguely unwell for a day or two beforehand.

Some people get what is called an aura. An aura is when someone sees flashing lights or a change in their vision, while others can find problems with their speech, and some feel pins and needles in their arms and legs. This can happen before or during a migraine.

When the migraine starts, it is a severe pain usually only on one side of the head . Your heads throbs, and it might hurt to see bright lights or hear noises. You might feel sick, and you might vomit. This can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. A migraine can be so painful and distressing that everyday activities become impossible.

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I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle

More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.

How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.

Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.

When To See A Doctor And What Theyll Ask You

Start by making a long appointment to see a GP to discuss your headache and nothing else. Give it the time and attention it deserves.

Its helpful to take a record of your headaches for your doctors appointment: a headache diary.

The most important tool doctors have to diagnose headaches is your history. You may feel they are asking a lot of questions, but thats because there are so many possible causes. Bear with your GP as they try to get you the most accurate diagnosis.

Here are the kinds of questions a doctor may ask, or be asking themselves while they assess you:

Is the pain caused by something straightforward?

Possible common causes include dehydration, eye/neck strain, teeth grinding, lack of sleep or caffeine withdrawal. Even taking regular painkillers can cause medication overuse headaches the cure can become the cause.

Where in your head is the pain?

Sometimes the location of the pain gives a clue. For example, about 35% of headaches are tension headaches, which feel like a tight band around both sides of your head. Another 4% are cluster headaches, which start behind one eye and are often associated with a stuffy nose.

Do you have any other symptoms accompanying the headache?

A migraine episode may be preceded by an aura , and often includes symptoms like nausea or vomiting, extreme sensitivity to noise and light, and blurred vision.

Is there a pattern to your headaches?

Do you have any other medical conditions?

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What Does Migraine Feel Like

Andrew Charles, MD, professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Goldberg Migraine Program, says that migraine pain is often described as sharp, throbbing, or an icepick to the head, but can also manifest with pressure-like, constant pain.

If thats not enough, migraine attacks come with a host of additional symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting, sensory sensitivity, and aura, to fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, and mood changes. They can affect the entire body and symptoms may vary from person to person even from attack to attack in the same individual.

There can be four phases of a migraine attack that can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.


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