When to Call the Doctor About Your Migraine or Headaches

Migraines and several other headache disorders are a real source of pain, but most of the time, they’re not signs that you have a serious medical problem. But when you have new symptoms or problems that are more severe than normal, it’s worth talking to your doctor.

Know your personal headache symptoms -- what’s normal for you and what’s not, and when you need emergency help.

The following headache symptoms mean you should get medical help right away:

A sudden, new, severe headache that comes with:

  • Weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, or can’t move your body
  • Trouble with speech, confusion, seizures, personality changes, or inappropriate behavior
  • Blurry vision, double vision, or blind spots
  • Fever, shortness of breath, a stiff neck, or rash
  • Headache pain that wakes you up at night
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches that happen after a head injury or accident
  • A new type of headache that starts for the first time after age 55
  • Have headaches that are triggered by coughing, bending, sexual activity or other intense physical activity
  • Have a history of headaches but have noticed a recent change in your symptoms or pattern of attacks

These migraine or headache symptoms don’t need urgent care, but you should let your doctor know if you:

  • 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 feel better
  • Have headaches that interfere with your family, work or social life
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lawrence C. Newman, MD on August 17, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

www.achenet.org: "Headache “Red Flags,” When to See Your Doctor."

Mayo Clinic: "Headache: When to see a doctor."

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