HealthONE - November 20, 2020

Headaches and migraines

While both are types of headaches, migraines are typically much more severe. Not to be confused with cluster or sinus headaches, migraines are often debilitating. Migraine symptoms, which can be quite painful and unpleasant, and may include:

  • High sensitivity to light
  • Lightheadedness, dizzy spells, or vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Pain behind one ear
  • Pain behind the temples
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Vomiting

Although painful, headaches and migraines alike often can often be treated at home with rest and over-the-counter medications. Occasionally, however, the sudden onset of a prolonged headache or migraine may mean that it’s time to seek treatment at your nearest emergency room (ER). You know you body better than anyone. If you sense something is seriously wrong, visit an ER immediately.

When to go to the ER for a headache – symptoms and conditions

If the sudden onset of a headache prevents you from performing daily tasks, is significantly debilitating, or is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should seek emergency treatment near you:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Fever
  • Neurological symptoms including weakness, numbing, slurred speech and blurred vision
  • Severe pain that begins suddenly

Individuals with certain medical conditions may also be at serious risk of harm. If you are experiencing any of these conditions along with your headache, you should immediately visit the nearest ER:

  • A headache immediately following a head injury
  • If you are taking blood thinners
  • Recent head injury or trauma

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