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Migraine Headaches - When to Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services if:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke, such as:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.

Call your doctor now or go to the emergency room if:

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

What Are Abdominal Migraines in Children and Adults?

An abdominal migraine is a variant of migraine headaches. It usually occurs in children who have a family history of migraines. Abdominal migraines are rare in adults, but about 2% of all children may get abdominal migraines. Females are more affected than males. Children that experience abdominal migraines typically develop migraine headaches when they get older. Although abdominal migraines are in the migraine family, the pain occurs in the belly. Usually, it's near the navel or midline. Abdominal...

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  • You have a fever and a stiff neck.
  • You have new nausea and vomiting, or you cannot keep food or liquids down.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your headache does not get better within 24 hours.
  • Your headache wakes you up at night.
  • Your headaches get worse or happen more often.
  • You develop new symptoms.
  • You have any problems with your medicine, or your medicine isn't helping your headaches.
  • You are older than 50 and have new or more frequent headaches.
  • Your headaches occur after physical exercise, sexual activity, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Your life is disrupted by your headaches (for example, you often miss work or school).

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor watch your symptoms or condition without using medical treatment. Watchful waiting may be fine if you have recently been diagnosed with migraines and over-the-counter medicines are controlling your pain.

Who to see

Health professionals who may diagnose and treat your migraines include the following:

If you think your headaches might be linked to depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 10, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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