When To Alert Your Physician About Headaches

Just how common are headaches? Would it surprise you that, on average, at least one person in every four households suffers from neurological headaches, more widely referred to as migraines?

Since ordinary headaches are commonplace and no cause for concern, it may be difficult to discern when a headache merits a discussion with your doctor. Knowing the different types of headaches and the signs of each can help alert you when a conversation with your provider is needed.

TYPES OF HEADACHES

There are a few different types of headaches. Knowing the signs for each can help you figure out over-the-counter treatment options and aid in discussing your symptoms with your clinician.

Headaches typically fall into the following categories:

  • Migraines- An intense headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.
  • Tension headaches- The most common type of headache often caused by stress and muscle tension.
  • Cluster headaches– Short, intense, painful headaches that reoccur every day for a period of time, such as weeks or months. They are often mistaken for allergies or stress.
  • Sinus headaches- When your sinuses become inflamed due to an infection or allergies, sinus headache often occurs due to pressure in your forehead, cheekbones, or nose bridge.

WHAT DOES A MIGRAINE FEEL LIKE?

The term migraine is often thought of as a severe headache. Headaches, however, are only one symptom of migraines. Migraines are actually a neurological disease involving nerve pathways and chemicals in the body.

Neurological Headache Symptoms

Neurological headaches or migraines often involve one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or smells
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue

According to Johns Hopkins University, up to 25 percent of individuals who have migraines also experience visual disturbances such as flashing lights or blind spots immediately before the onset of migraine headache pain. These visual disturbances are referred to as auras.

HOW LONG SHOULD A HEADACHE LAST BEFORE TELLING YOUR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN?

Most individuals have headaches occasionally; therefore, knowing when to bring it up with your doctor is not always intuitive. In general, if a headache does not improve or resolve itself after using over-the-counter medicines or interferes with sleep or work, it is best to speak with your family practice physician.

Always seek immediate emergency care if any of the following accompanies your headache:

  •  Confusion
  •  Slurred speech
  •  Feeling faint
  •  Inability to stand or walk
  •  Blurred vision
  •  Numbness or weakness on one side of your body
  • Nausea or vomiting
  •  Loss of consciousness
  • Your headache occurs after a head injury
  • Your headache lasts consistently for more than 72 hours

WHEN TO SEE YOUR PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR FOR HEADACHES―QUIZ

Still unsure whether or not to tell your doctor about your headache pain? Take the short quiz below to help you decide.

  1.     Do you have three or more headaches per week?
  2.     Do you have headaches that keep getting worse and will not go away?
  3.     Do you consistently need more than two to three doses of over-the-counter medication per week to feel better?
  4.     Do you have a history of headaches but have noticed a recent change in your symptoms or pattern of attacks?
  5.     Are your headaches constant and always in the exact location?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it is time to let your family medicine doctor know about your headache pain and any associated issues.

A headache or migraine can cause discomfort and affect your daily life, especially when symptoms are severe. While both headaches and migraines cause pain, each have different causes and recommended treatments. Understanding the cause of your symptoms and knowing how to recognize the signs of each will help you get proper treatment.

Avoid suffering in silence. Have a conversation with your physician. Together you can find a course of treatment that works and provides the desired relief.

HOW DO I FIND A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN OR PCP NEAR LITTLETON, CO?

Our Colorado Primary Health Care team is committed to supplying exceptional and innovative care to every patient.

If you are located in Littleton, CO, and need a primary care physician, we invite you to book an appointment using our online form or by calling our office at (303) 703-8583

 

 

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Family Medicine Conveniently Located in Littleton, CO

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Littleton, CO 80120

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