Headache? When to Seek Medical Attention

When to See a Physician for Your Headache:

There are times when headaches or uncharacteristic migraine symptoms are indications of something that needs medical attention. Some individuals are reluctant to call their doctors or go to an Emergency Department because they don’t want to arrive only to learn that nothing out of the ordinary is wrong. Please, don’t be concerned about that; get medical attention if you think you fit the following criteria.

  • You have more than the occasional headache
  • Your headaches are severe or come on quickly
  • Your headache is accompanied by any of the following:
    (And you have not discussed these symptoms with your doctor before)
    ο  Confusion
    ο  Dizziness
    ο  Fever
    ο  Numbness
    ο  Persistent vomiting
    ο  Shortness of breath
    ο  Slurred speech
    ο  Stiff neck
    ο  Unpredicted symptoms affecting your ears, nose, throat pr eyes
    ο  Unrelenting diarrhea
    ο  Vision loss
    ο  Weakness
  • Your have a headache that persists, and continues to get worse or won’t stop
  • Your headaches interfere with your normal activities of daily life
  • You find yourself taking pain relievers more than two days a week
  • You take over-the-counter medications for headache relief but the recommended dosage is not adequate
  • Coughing, sneezing, bending over, exercise or sexual activity cause headaches
  • You have headaches that continue and that began after a head injury, or other trauma
  • The characteristics of your headaches change
  • The symptoms of your migraine attacks change

See your Physician Immediately or Go to an Emergency Department if:

  • You are having the worst headache ever
  • You are having your worst migraine attack ever
  • Your headache is accompanied by the following symptoms:
    ο  Unresolved loss of vision
    ο  Loss of consciousness
    ο  Uncontrollable vomiting
    ο  The pain of your headache lasts more than 72 hours with less than a solid four-hour pain-free period while awake
    ο  You experience a headache or a migraine attack that presents unusual symptoms that are abnormal for you and frightening

Does Caffeine Trigger or Treat Headaches?


Caffeine can be a headache trigger or headache inhibitor. Caffeine can be found in beverages, chocolate and even in some popular over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers.

Before a headache or migraine, blood vessels tend to enlarge. Because it contains “vasoconstrictive” properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, caffeine can aid in head pain relief. When caffeine is added to the combination of acetaminophen and aspirin, the pain relieving effect is increased by 40%.
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Ask the Expert: Headache Causing Disability Probably Not Tension

Q. I am under the care of my doctor for headaches. After reading about tension-type headaches, I feel like these are what I have been having. I have mild-to-moderate headaches for two weeks at a time. No over-the-counter (OTC) medicine helps. My doctor gave me a sample of migraine medications, but they didn’t help. I don’t know what to do from here or how to get treatment. Exactly what should I tell my doctor so that he can help me? Do you have any advice to help prevent the headaches? I work full time and I’m a wife and mother to two kids. I can’t continue having these headaches. Continue Reading