When Is Headache Pain an Emergency?

Any time you experience a headache, it can feel worrisome. That is probably due to the fact that some really serious conditions are indicated by head pain!

Thankfully, most headaches aren’t a medical emergency and can be remedied by rest, fluids and OTC medication. But because headaches can sometimes be a sign of something more serious, it is important to know the red flags to watch for. Read on to get the details from the AFC Urgent Care Knoxville team.

What Are the Different Levels of Headaches?

Around 80–90% of headaches are caused by an overactivity in the pain-sensitive parts of your brain that can produce discomfort. These are called “primary headaches,” and while painful, they don’t indicate an underlying medical emergency.

The other type of headache that you need to watch out for is a “secondary headache.” These types of headaches can indicate a serious underlying issue like a blood clot, brain tumor or a stroke. If you are experiencing significant pain along with one or more of the below symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.

Warning Signs of a Secondary Headache

  • Sudden and severe pain
  • Pain accompanied by fever or stiff neck
  • Headaches after an injury or accident
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or paralysis on the body

Can I Self-Diagnose a Headache?

You should never take head pain lightly. If you are not certain what is causing your head to ache and the pain lingers, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional. If it turns out to be attributed to a migraine or other primary headache condition, your care team will discuss lifestyle changes and potential medications to start.

If you present with any symptoms associated with a blood clot or another serious condition, a CT scan or MRI will be ordered to investigate further while you are being monitored. If an issue is discovered, you will be admitted to a hospital or sent to a specialist for further treatment.

At-home Treatment for a Primary Headache

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get plenty of rest in a quiet, dark room.
  • Take an OTC pain reliever or anti-inflammatory.
  • Drink a small amount of caffeine.

Headaches are something to always take seriously. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, stop by AFC Urgent Care Knoxville for a diagnosis.