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When To Seek Medical Attention For Migraines

Can Headaches Or Migraines Be Cured

Headaches: When to Seek Medical Attention

Treating health problems that cause headaches, such as high blood pressure, can eliminate head pain. Recently, there have been several new advancements in our understanding of what causes headaches. Although we are closer than ever before to a cure, at this time there is no cure for primary headaches. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing future episodes.

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.

When Should You Schedule A Doctors Appointment For Your Headache

The following symptoms do not require urgent medical care, but you should still get them checked out by a medical professional:

  • Headaches that interfere with your daily activities
  • If you suffer from recurring headaches or migraines that interfere with your daily tasks and affect your quality of life, you should address this issue with your health practitioner. You can work together with your doctor to help you find the headache or migraine treatment that works best for you. Over-the-counter or prescription medications can be used to manage headache and migraine symptoms.

  • Headaches that do not improve with medication
  • If you are already taking medication for your recurrent headaches or migraines, and your headaches no longer improve after you take the medication, you should seek medical treatment. It is important to keep in mind that headache medication overuse can cause rebound, medication-induced headache, and it is important to avoid exceeding recommended daily dosages.

  • Frequent headaches
  • If you previously suffered from occasional headaches but now find that your headaches have increased in frequency, it is time to consult your doctor. Experiencing more than three headaches a week warrants a trip to the doctors office for a checkup, especially if you find yourself having to take pain medication more than twice a week.

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    What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine

    If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:

  • How often you have headaches
  • Where the pain is
  • How long the headaches last
  • When the headaches happen, such as during your period
  • Other symptoms, such as nausea or blind spots
  • Any family history of migraine
  • All the medicines that you are taking for all your medical problems, even the over-the-counter medicines
  • All the medicines you have taken in the past that you can recall and, if possible, the doses you took and any side effects you had
  • Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.

    You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.

    How Are Migraines Prevented Or Managed

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    There are many ways to manage migraines both to prevent an attack and to treat an attack once it starts . It is important to have a migraine management plan and this will probably involve lifestyle changes and medication.

    If you suspect you are getting a migraine, you may get some relief from pain-relief medicines. Some people find they can prevent a migraine by treating it early.

    Some people can manage migraine with pain relief available from pharmacies others might need prescription medications to deal with an acute attack. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about options.

    During the migraine, rest in a quiet, dark room. Get as much help as possible with responsibilities at work, for family and so on.

    If you get migraines fairly often, there is a wide range of preventive medicines that can reduce the number and severity of the attacks.

    If you have just started getting migraines, keeping a diary about them can help you understand when they happen, and what triggers them. That may help you prevent them, and may also help you to explain what you are experiencing with your doctor.

    In the longer term, non-medicine therapies can also help to prevent migraine. These include:

    • relaxation training, such as yoga and meditation

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    Use Urgent Care For Migraines In An Emergency

    In the middle of a headache, its hard to know what to do for severe migraine pain. But if your symptoms call for it, use urgent care for migraines.

    Our facility takes walk-ins between 9 am and 8 pm seven days a week. We treat many emergency and non-emergency medical issues, often in less time and at a lower cost than the hospital emergency room.

    Contact us for questions before you come!

    Dizziness 3 Confusion And/or 4 Clumsiness

    Mild dizziness or forgetting where you put your glasses dont qualify. You can bring those up to your doctor at your next office visit, or go to an urgent care for a quick checkup.

    The important words here are SUDDEN and/or SEVERE.

    However, if any of these symptoms come on suddenly or are severe, call 9-1-1 or get to an emergency room:

    • Clumsiness, loss of balance, or fainting
    • Unexplained loss of consciousness
    • Difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech

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    Quick Dose: When Is A Migraine Cause For Concern

    For some people, migraines are triggered by stress, certain foods, lack of sleep, hormones, allergies and changes in the weather. There are many triggers, explains Subhash K. Patel, MD, neurologist at Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group. If youve had migraines for a long time, you may understand your normal patterns.

    However, some headaches could signal a serious condition, so its important to take note of new patterns, a change in the intensity of your headaches or recurring headaches that wont go away.

    Seek immediate care if:

    • Its the first severe headache youve ever had, and it comes on suddenly
    • The headache intensifies and gets worse over 24 hours
    • You experience slurred speech or change in vision
    • You have problems moving your arms or legs
    • You lose a sense of balance or experience vertigo
    • You are confused or have memory loss with your headache
    • The headache is severe in just one eye, with redness in that eye
    • You have a fever, stiff neck or vomiting

    Dr. Patel also recommends that you seek medical attention right away if youre having trouble keeping liquids down, because dehydration will worsen your symptoms.

    Headaches can be debilitating, and they deserve the attention of a neurologist or headache specialist for a thorough evaluation. Its important to seek help once they start occurring. Self-medication without a diagnosis can make things worse, says Dr. Patel.

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    When To Seek Medical Care For A Headache

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    A headache can strike without warning some much more serious than others. And there are many types of headaches: migraines, tension, sinus headaches, along with various causes: panic attack, head trauma, and blood clot just for starters. Sometimes its obvious you need to seek medical help immediately, while other times, not so much.

    Most of us experience an occasional headache and we either rub our temples and meditate, relax, and/or grab an over-the-counter pain reliever. You might be surprised to learn the

    number and types of headaches that can plague us. According to published reports, there are 150 types of headaches, and many of them can be very serious. Keep reading to learn when to seek medical care for a headache.

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    Treatment Of Migraine In The Er

    The primary role of an ER is to evaluate and treat conditions urgently. If you go to the ER for a migraine and have any unusual symptoms, the ER doctor will likely order brain imaging to rule out a stroke or aneurysm.

    If you dont have any unusual symptoms, you may not need any diagnostic imaging tests. Your ER doctor will instead ask you questions about your headache and the medications you currently take.

    If needed, your ER doctor can provide medications to help temporarily alleviate your migraine until you can see your regular doctor.

    Headache medications can be given intravenously or intramuscularly. These include:

    • antiemetics to help relieve nausea and pain
    • dihydroergotamine, which is specifically used for prolonged migraine treatment
    • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids to reduce inflammation and pain
    • sumatriptan, which provides urgent migraine relief
    • valproic acid, an anti-seizure medication used for headache relief

    Sometimes, an ER doctor may prescribe you opioids, but this is rare. This is because of potential side effects and risk of dependence.

    In addition to pain-relieving medications, your ER doctor may provide fluids via IV if youre experiencing dehydration.

    Your Migraines Turn From Episodic To Chronic

    Most everyone has a migraine at some point. If you experience one a couple of times a year that’s no cause for concern. However, if you start having migraines more frequently say, 15 or more days a month you might suffer from chronic migraines.

    You should see a neurologist or headache specialist to find out more.

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    Pain Medications For Migraines

    Some of the safe migraine medications your doctor might suggest are as follows :

    In the first trimester and beyond

    • Paracetamol/Acetaminophen helps reduce pain
    • Metoclopramide treats nausea and vomiting symptoms during pregnancy
    • Triptans, such as Imitrex and Amergecan, can ease migraine headaches

    After the second trimester:

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help. However, these can cause severe complications such as preterm birth and birth defects if consumed in the first trimester.

    Some of the medications you should avoid

    • Aspirin: It can cause miscarriage and bleeding.
    • Opioids: These can cause severe complications, such as stillbirth, premature deliveries, and congenital disabilities.

    How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache

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    Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:

    In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:

  • Moderate-to-severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.

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    How To Prevent Migraines During Pregnancy

    The following measures could help you stay away from migraine headaches in pregnancy .

    • Identify and avoid triggers that can lead to migraines and headaches.
    • Follow a healthy routine of daily activities, including a gentle walk or breathing exercise, and stick to them. That way, the body and the mind get accustomed to the timings.
    • Stay away from stress and anxiety by avoiding stressful activities and anxiety triggers.
    • Have a nutritious and healthy diet, do not skip meals, and follow a routine.
    • Get a good night√Ęs sleep to help avoid stress and headache.

    What Conditions Migraines Can Cause

    Research has found a link between migraines and other health issues. Some of the most serious links include:

    Anxiety and depressionLiving with migraines puts you at increased risk for anxiety and depression. Having migraines on a regular basis significantly elevates your risk for developing depression.

    EpilepsyMigraines can be associated with epilepsy, a seizure disorder.

    Irritable bowel syndrome Like migraines, the cause of IBS is unknown. Migraine and tension-type headaches may be linked with IBS on a genetic level, according to research presented at an American Academy of Neurology conference.

    StrokeHaving migraines does not mean youll eventually have a stroke, but your risk for stroke is increased. The risk is higher for women with migraines that are accompanied by light flashes, speaking problems and auras.

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    An Abnormal Migraine Attack

    Is my pain and any other symptoms new or extreme?

    Although a migraine attack often yields unpleasant and even debilitating symptoms, certain symptoms may be immediate signals that require emergency medical attention. Many doctors recommend visiting the ER for what you might describe as the worst headache of your life. How a patient defines that will vary and could be influenced by numerous factors such as new or dangerous symptoms, severity or duration of pain, abruptness of an attack, or ineffectiveness of medications, among others. Headache symptoms may not even be associated with migraine at all, but rather a more serious condition such as brain aneurysm or concussion. Symptoms to watch for include:

    • Confusion, memory loss, trouble speaking or slurred speech
    • Extreme dizziness
    • Loss of vision or other extreme changes in vision
    • Worsening pain that doesn’t respond to medication or normal relief techniques

    Always document your symptoms and keep written records of what is “normal” for your migraine attacks so that you can share them with your doctor. It is important to remember that symptoms often differ from one attack to the next and the presence of a new symptom or trigger does not necessarily indicate something more dangerous, but you still want to be mindful when there are abnormalities.

    When Youve Suffered A Migraine That Has Lasted Quite A While

    When should a patient seek medical attention?

    When a headache begins, you may lay down or take some pain meds to help manage the pain, hoping that itll die down in a while.

    However, if it persists and you are constantly in severe pain , you should seek help. A migraine that hinders you from doing anything and lasts a few days to weeks warrants an emergency room visit.

    Doctors in the ER work to ensure that no severe, life-threatening issues are causing the migraine, and while they may not be migraine or headache specialists, they will help decrease your suffering by prescribing stronger medications to help manage the pain. This is, of course, after they rule out any complications or potentially fatal issues. If the doctor discovers that youre experiencing dehydration, they may administer fluids through an IV.

    Apart from this, if you experience frequent migraines, you may need to make a migraine kit for emergencies.

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    Common Types Of Headaches

    While there are many types of headaches, there are certain ones that are more common than others.

    Tension Headaches

    These often can cause you to feel sensations of dull, aching pain along with sensitivity around your forehead, neck, scalp, or shoulders. They can often be triggered by stress.

    Cluster Headaches

    These often cause feelings of severe burning or stabbing pain and can be accompanied by facial redness, sweating, and swelling. They come in groups, with each headache lasting 15 minutes to three hours, and can continue daily for months.


    These long-lasting headaches cause a deep throbbing within your head and can often prevent you from carrying out your day-to-day tasks. Migraines can also cause disturbances in your vision and be connected to various nervous system issues.

    What Are The Different Types Of Headaches

    There are many different types of headaches. The differentiation between them depends on the headache locations, symptoms, and causes. A headache can occur due to multi[le reasons including lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, caffeine withdrawal, and some medications can also cause a headache. Here is a list of different types of headaches, their locations, causes, and symptoms.

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    Causes Of An Exertion Headache

    Common activities that can trigger exertion headaches include sports such as weightlifting, running, aerobics, tennis, swimming, and rowing, as well as singing, coughing or sneezing, straining on the toilet, and sexual intercourse. Exertion headaches can be categorized into two groups, primary and secondary, which causes vary.

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

    Attention Migraine Sufferers!

    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.

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