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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Tension Headaches - When to Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services if:

  • 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.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

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

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Headache Treatment

Headache treatment depends largely on determining the cause of the headache. Tension headaches can usually be treated by the use of over-the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, or even aspirin. When tension or stress is the cause, nondrug options may include massage to relieve muscle tension, yoga and other forms of exercise, and working less when possible. The treatment of migraine headaches is somewhat more involved and may involve a number of different approaches to the pain....

Read the Understanding Headache Treatment article > >

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

  • Your headache wakes you up at night.
  • Your headaches get worse or happen more often.
  • You start to have new symptoms.
  • You have any problems with your medicine.
  • Your headaches occur after physical exercise, sexual activity, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Your life is disrupted by your headaches (for example, you miss work or school regularly).

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If your headache gets better on its own, you won't need treatment. If it gets worse or you get headaches often, you and your doctor will decide what to do next.

Watchful waiting and using over-the-counter pain medicines work well if your tension headaches don't keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if your headaches are disrupting your life, talk to your doctor about other treatments that you could try.

Who to see

Most health professionals can recognize and treat tension headaches. You may seek treatment from any of the following:

If you think that your headaches are caused by depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor. Treating these problems may help reduce how bad your headaches are and how often you get them.

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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