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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Is it a Headache or Something More?

Posted By: Advancing Care

Medically reviewed by Jin Li, MD

If you experience a sudden severe headache or a headache accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seek immediate medical care by calling 9-1-1 or going to the emergency room. These symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Vision changes
  • Difficulty speaking or walking
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

just a headache

These could be signs of stroke, meningitis, brain hemorrhage or other conditions needing urgent care.

Know Your Headache Type

Understanding your headache type can help determine the best course of action, whether it's simple self-care or seeking professional medical help.

  • Tension headaches: Dull, aching pain on both sides of the head, often like a tight band
  • Migraines: Throbbing pain, usually on one side, often with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light/sound
  • Cluster headaches: Severe, recurring pain in clusters, typically on one side and around the eye
  • Sinus headaches: Pain and pressure in the forehead/cheeks, often with nasal congestion and fever

Remember, not all headaches are created equal. If you are unsure, play it safe and get checked out.

When to Schedule a Doctor's Visit

WMCHealth has primary care physicians with expertise in headache evaluation. Make an appointment with a primary care physician at 914.592.2400 if your headaches are:

  • Increasingly severe or frequent
  • Interfering with daily life
  • Not responding to over-the-counter meds
  • New or different headaches starting after age 55