Headaches are one of the most common ailments that people experience. And although they can cause immense pain, inconvenience, and irritability for the sufferer, a headache is usually nothing to worry about. But how much pain is too much, and when should you be concerned about recurring headaches? Keep reading to find out when to see a doctor for a headache.
Types of Headaches
If you are concerned about your head pain, it’s important to discern what kind of headache you are suffering from; not only can this help you treat the headache, but it may also reveal any headache triggers or red flags. The most common types of headaches are as follows:
- Cluster headaches tend to occur for prolonged periods of time, with bouts of frequent attacks. These attacks, also known as cluster periods, can last from weeks to months. Pain is usually localized behind our around one eye.
- Tension headaches are the most common, and typically the least debilitating, kind of headache. Sufferers are known to experience dull, aching pain and a sensation of tightness across the forehead on or around the back and sides of the head.
- Migraines cause severe throbbing or pulsing pain, usually localized to one side of the head. Other migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Many migraine sufferers report a warning symptom or aura before the headache occurs. This may include spotted vision, tingling, exacerbated exhaustion, or difficulty speaking. Migraines occur more frequently in women and tend to present from early childhood. For more severe cases, over-the-counter medication is often ineffective.
- Sinus headaches occur when cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. Common symptoms are pressure around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead. They are most commonly caused by a cold or seasonal allergies.
Potential Headache Causes
There are lots of factors that may bring on a headache, ranging from external factors like stress, eye strain, and diet to internal factors such as hormone fluctuation and nerve damage. Many people report that, when they get less sleep or find themselves staring at the computer too long, a headache is not far behind. For many women, hormone fluctuations that correspond with their menstrual cycle are the culprit. Check out this list of common headache causes:
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Eye strain/ blue-light eye damage
- Poor posture
The aforementioned causes are relatively minor and tend to be easily corrected. However, a headache can be indicative of a more serious issue that needs medical care:
- Brain tumor
- Sinus infection
- Brain aneurysm
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Dental issues
- Ear infection
- High blood pressure
How Long Should a Headache Last Before Deciding on When to See a Doctor for Headache?
Before you run to a neurologist, it’s important to note that even a minor, non-emergent headache can last for an extended period of time. However, if you have been suffering with the same symptoms for several days, weeks, or months with no momentary relief, it may be time to see a doctor.
How do You Know if a Headache is Serious?
Headaches are a part of life, but there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for if you suspect that something isn’t right. If you are experiencing an unprecedented amount of pain from a headache, have a fever, behavioral changes, vision changes, or trouble speaking, seek emergency attention immediately. These symptoms could indicate a serious condition like a stroke, brain aneurysm, or severe concussion.
Which Doctor Should I Consult for a Headache?
If you suspect that you are experiencing a life-threatening condition, call 911 or go directly to an emergency room near you. When it comes to wondering when to see a doctor for headache, if you suspect that something is wrong but do not believe that you are in immediate danger, make an appointment with your primary care physician or pediatrician. If they deem it necessary, they may refer you to a specialist that is more equipped to diagnose and treat your symptoms. Should imaging be required to make a diagnosis, then you may need a CT scan or an MRI.
Visit Village Emergency Centers
You don’t have to live with painful, chronic, or abnormal headaches. If you think your pain goes further than what can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain medication, visit a Village Emergency Center near you for medical advice! Our emergency and neurological experts are fully prepared to help you with all your emergent medical needs. If you want to learn more about what might be causing your headaches or simply, want to know when to see a doctor for a headache, contact us today!