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Seeking Medical Care for a Migraine or Headache

When to Seek Medical Care for a Headache or Migraine

Call a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the migraine commonly experienced
  • A new, progressive headache that lasts for days
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet, and so on
  • Large, unintentional loss of body weight
  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after the headache

Go to a hospital emergency department if any of the following occur:

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is a neurological condition in which the occipital nerves -- the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord at the base of the neck up through the scalp -- are inflamed or injured. Occipital neuralgia can be confused with a migraine, or other types of headache, because the symptoms can be similar. But occipital neuralgia is a distinct disorder that requires an accurate diagnosis to be treated properly.

Read the Occipital Neuralgia article > >

  • Having the worst headache ever, especially if the headache came on very quickly
  • Headache associated with trauma to the head
  • Trauma to the head with loss of consciousness
  • Fever or stiff neck associated with a headache
  • Decreased level of consciousness or confusion
  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Seizure

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 23, 2013
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