Skip to content

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Select An Article

When to Call the Doctor About Your Migraines or Headaches

    Font Size

    Any kind of pain is your body's way of warning you about an injury or illness. Although migraines and headaches are rarely the symptoms of a serious illness, occasionally they may indicate a serious medical condition such as a tumor or aneurysm (blood vessel rupture). It is important for you to become familiar with your personal headache symptoms, and those that require immediate medical attention.

    If you or a loved one has any of the following headache symptoms seek medical care immediately:

    Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

    Understanding Headache -- Symptoms

    If you feel a dull, steady pain that feels like a band tightening around your head, you may have a tension headache. If you feel throbbing that begins on one side and causes nausea or sound/light sensitivity, you may have a migraine. Visual disturbances, such as flickering points of light, may precede a migraine headache. If you feel a non-throbbing pain around one red, watery eye, with nasal congestion on that side of your face, you may have a cluster headache. If you feel a steady pain in the...

    Read the Understanding Headache -- Symptoms article > >

    • A sudden, new severe headache
    • A headache that is associated with neurological (nerve) symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, paralysis, speech difficulties, mental confusion, seizures, personality changes/inappropriate behavior, or vision changes (blurry vision, double vision, or blind spots)
    • Headache with a fever, shortness of breath, stiff neck, or rash
    • Headache pain that awakens you at night
    • Headaches with severe nausea and vomiting
    • Headaches that occur after a head injury or accident
    • Getting a new type of headache after age 55

    The following migraine or headache symptoms do not require urgent care, but you should contact your doctor if you, or your loved one, have any of these symptoms.

    • Have three or more headaches per week
    • Have headaches that keep getting worse and won't go away
    • Need to take a pain reliever every day or almost every day for your headaches
    • Need more than two to three doses of over-the-counter medications per week to relieve headache symptoms
    • Have headaches that are triggered by exertion, coughing, bending, or strenuous activity
    • Have a history of headaches, but have noticed a recent change in your headache symptoms

     

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 19, 2012
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    woman receiving acupuncture
    14 alternative methods for migraine relief.
    woman with migraine
    Get the truth about migraines.
     
    headache in the bedroom
    Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
    desert heat
    12 surprising headache triggers.
     
    woman with migraine
    Quiz
    drinking coffee
    Article
     
    Migraines Headaches Basics
    Article
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Slideshow
     
    young woman with migraine
    Articles
    spraying perfume
    Article
     
    man with a headache
    Article
    headache in the bedroom
    Article
     

    Special Sections