Headache is pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a viselike quality. A headache may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache.

Headaches are very common. They are one of the most frequent reasons that people take medicine or see health care providers. There is a range of over the counter and prescription treatments available as well as non-pharmacologic ways to manage headaches and migraines. It can be hard to know when to seek medical treatment and how to find the right providers.

If you are wondering if it is time to seek medical treatment for your headaches consider the following questions:

  • Are your headaches interfering in your life regarding work, school, family or social activities?
  • Have your headaches become more frequent or more severe?
  • Are over-the-counter medications no longer effective or do you worry that you might be taking too much?
  • Have you gone to the emergency department for a headache?

To determine if you should seek care from a neurologist or headache specialist consider the following:

  • Have you talked with your primary care provider about your headaches?
  • Are you dissatisfied with your current medications or treatment regimen? For example, the medications do not relieve your headaches, you have side effects that you cannot tolerate, or your headaches often return after treatment.
  • Are you pregnant, nursing, or trying to get pregnant and experiencing frequent or severe headache?
  • Do you experience headache on 15 or more days per month?
  • Have you recently experienced a headache that is significantly different than other headaches you have had or that you would describe as the worst headache of your life?

For some patients, headache specialists may recommend that they participate in a headache program or receive inpatient care to treat their headaches. These approaches can be especially helpful in the cases of very severe and treatment refractory headache.

They also combine pharmacological treatments (medications) with scientifically proven non-pharmacologic treatments such as biofeedback, relaxation training and cognitive behavioral therapy for headache.

People also ask:

  • What are the different types of headaches?
  • What could a headache be a sign of?
  • When should you be concerned about a headache?
  • How do I relieve a headache?


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