Headaches - When To See a Doctor

Headaches can be dull and throbbing, sharp and pinpointed, and can last for a few minutes or a few days. There are three main types of headaches: tension, migraine and cluster headaches. Each may have its own causes and different symptoms. Migraine headaches differ from tension headaches in that the pain is usually restricted to one side of the head, and may be described as throbbing, moderate to severe pain.

When To Call The Doctor About a Headache

Headaches can happen to anyone, at any time, in any place. Thankfully, headaches are so common that for the most part they are nothing to worry about. In most cases, headache symptoms only last for a matter of minutes or hours.

But what if the pain doesn’t go away? And what if there are additional symptoms or sickness? More importantly, how can you tell when a headache is serious enough to seek medical care?

Headache with a stiff neck and fever

Some headaches, such as tension headache, can be accompanied by a neck pain or a tightness in the neck. But a sudden, severe headache along with a very stiff neck and a fever and/or sensitivity to light could be a sign of a serious infection that requires medical attention.

Numbness or weakness with a headache

Numbness or weakness with a headache, including slurred speech or difficulty walking could be symptomatic of a more serious condition. Speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

Altered vision

Double, blurred vision or partial loss of vision with a headache.

Confusion, convulsions, or loss of consciousness

Confusion or loss of consciousness, when paired with a headache, are all warning signs of a serious illness or injury. These may occur with the onset of head pain or after experiencing a headache. Either way, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Head injury

Any time a head injury results in a headache, consult a doctor right away.

Head pain following a head trauma could be a sign of damage that requires immediate medical treatment.

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