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How to Know if a Headache Requires Urgent Medical Attention - Legacy ER

  • Category: Symptoms
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Alex Murray
How to Know if a Headache Requires Urgent Medical Attention - Legacy ER

​Headaches happen all the time. Whether you’re tired, dehydrated, or stressed out, a headache is a common symptom. But there’s a fine line that dictates when you should treat a headache at home and when you need to seek out emergency services. Here’s what you need to know. 

Not All Headaches Are Emergencies

As previously stated, not all headaches require emergency treatment like serious lacerations or chest pain do. Fortunately, most headaches subside within a few minutes and knowing how to treat headaches at home is fairly simple. 

Severe Headaches can Fool You

A headache that requires medical treatment may not always start out at an intense level. It can be especially difficult to tell whether a headache is a medical emergency or not if you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines. Symptoms can often manifest in a very similar way to migraines, but can also progress quickly if you’re not careful. Here are the symptoms you need to look out for: 

  • Extreme Pain – it could feel like a migraine, but if you’re not used to migraines you should seek out medical attention
  • Movement and Balance Issues – movement and balance issues are fairly common with chronic migraine patients, but if the symptoms vary from what you’re used to it’s a sign you need medical attention
  • Fever – fevers don’t normally accompany headaches, which means the headache itself could be symptomatic of another problem
  • Sudden Onset – this is especially important if you’re over 50, as a “thunderclap” onset could be indicative of a serious medical issue
  • Vision Issues – normally, headaches don’t cause vision issues, but double vision and vision loss are two symptoms that require immediate medical attention

If You Don’t Have These Symptoms 

If you’re not suffering from any of these symptoms, here’s how to treat headaches at home: 

  • Stay Hydrated – hydration is key, and dehydration is often the cause of headaches
  • Rest – resting your eyes and staying away from bright lights can help a headache subside
  • Go to Urgent Care

The most important thing to do in these situations is pay attention to your symptoms. Don’t let headaches get the best of you!