When to Call the Doctor About Your Migraine or Headaches

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 19, 2023
2 min read

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 50
  • 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

You may be used to managing your migraines or headaches yourself. But if they have gotten more regular or stronger or if they keep you from daily activities, you may consider seeing a doctor for the first time. Remember to mention 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