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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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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

10 Terms Every Migraine Sufferer Should Know

Some headaches can be summed up in just a few words. A migraine, however, can be a lengthy event that causes far more than just head pain. If you have migraines, learning a few new words may help you better understand and describe your symptoms. Here are the definitions of 10 important migraine terms: Ataxia. This is the medical term for difficulty using your muscles that leads to lack of coordination. A type of migraine called basilar migraine, which involves the brainstem, may cause ataxia...

Read the 10 Terms Every Migraine Sufferer Should Know article > >

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 have new, different, 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.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 22, 2014
    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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