Nearly everyone experiences a headache at some point in their life. Even getting a little dehydrated or having a few too many late nights can trigger a headache. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, headaches and migraines are two of the most common conditions around the entire globe.
But if headaches are so common, how do you know when it’s time to seek medical attention for them? At Advance Medical Group, our providers specialize in internal medicine, which means we can help you manage chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and even migraines.
If you’re dealing with chronic headaches, here are a few signs that it’s time to give us a call.
What’s causing your headache?
When it comes to headache treatments, one of the most important factors is to determine what’s causing your headache. There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary.
Primary headaches include cluster headaches, migraines, and tension headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by a disease and can be caused by lifestyle factors such as:
- Dietary triggers (vary from person to person)
- Lack of sleep
- Poor posture
- High stress levels
Unlike primary headaches, secondary headaches are a symptom of some underlying condition. Below is just a small sample of underlying health conditions that may lead to headaches:
- Infections (including ear infections and sinus infections)
- Dental problems, including TMJ pain or bad bites
- Common cold, influenza, and COVID-19
It’s also possible to get a headache from wearing a too-tight ponytail, tight headgear, too-small helmet, or snug-fitting goggles.
When to consult a doctor about headaches
If you were out in the sun all day (and a little dehydrated), you probably noticed that your headache eased up once you were hydrated again, but when does a headache require medical attention?
Here are seven signs that it’s time to give us a call to talk about your headaches:
- You have regular headaches
- They interfere with your quality of life (e.g., force you to miss work, etc.)
- Your headache is accompanied by flu symptoms
- Your headaches are getting more intense
- Your headaches are becoming more frequent than usual
- Your headaches cause nausea and/or vomiting
- Your headache isn’t alleviated with pain relievers
Some headaches can be connected to allergies or even menstrual cycles. Try keeping a journal to note any similarities between your headache days and your non-headache days.
When to seek emergency medical care
On rare occasions, a headache might require a trip to the local emergency room. If you experience, “the worst headache of your life” that comes on suddenly, wakes you up in the middle of the night, or is accompanied by dizziness, seek urgent medical care. This “thunderclap” headache can be a sign of an aneurysm.
If you’re having trouble walking, speaking, or can’t move your neck, it’s also wise to call 9-1-1, as these can be signs of other serious conditions.
Although these severe headache symptoms sound scary, it’s important to remember that most headaches are caused by more benign activities or environmental factors.
Treatment for headaches depends greatly on the cause. For example, seasonal allergies can sometimes trigger a migraine, according to the experts at WebMD. If that’s the case for you, you’d benefit from getting those seasonal allergies under control — and we can help with that.
If tension and stress are contributing to your headaches, you might benefit from incorporating more stress management techniques into your life. There are also a variety of medications to help reduce pain and discomfort from a headache or migraine — or even help to prevent a migraine from forming.
Not sure what’s causing your headaches? As internal medicine specialists, we can help you manage chronic conditions — and that includes headaches and migraines. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at any of our three clinics or request an appointment via our website.