Ouch! When Should a Headache or Migraine Send You to Immediate Care?

You turn off the light. Close the blinds. Drink water. Lay down as soon as you can. It’s anoth­er headache or migraine. This is the rou­tine now. Maybe you’re find­ing your­self shut­ting out the world more and more because of the pain.

Most every­one gets a headache every now and then. But migraines are anoth­er thing. Pain from migraines might slow you down or com­plete­ly stop you from going to work, school or attend­ing impor­tant life events.

If you have either a headache or migraine, you might try to treat it at home, but some­times you may need to go to one of our near­by Imme­di­ate Care Cen­ters.

What Kind of Headaches Can Imme­di­ate Care Treat?

There are dif­fer­ent types of headaches. Some­times you might try to get rid of it or wait it out, but if it’s get­ting worse or just not going away, it might be time to vis­it one of Duly’s Imme­di­ate Care locations. 

When you’re in pain, and home reme­dies are not giv­ing you any relief, you might want to set up an appoint­ment with your provider. If it’s not life-threat­en­ing, but the headache is impact­ing your qual­i­ty of life, Imme­di­ate Care is the best option.

Can You Have Headaches From a Concussion?

If you’ve had a con­cus­sion recent­ly, a headache is a com­mon symp­tom. The good news is that the headaches usu­al­ly stop for most peo­ple after a month. Plen­ty of rest is rec­om­mend­ed. If you’re still notic­ing headaches after that or they’re becom­ing too fre­quent, our Imme­di­ate Care team can eval­u­ate you and deter­mine if you need a new treat­ment plan. 

Are your headaches severe and not respond­ing to home treat­ment? You’ll want to vis­it Duly Health and Care’s Imme­di­ate Care right away. We accept walk-ins and appoint­ments. Find a loca­tion near you.

Headaches that Shouldn’t be Treat­ed at an Imme­di­ate Care

Some­times your headache pain can be a symp­tom of a health prob­lem. If it’s paired with an uncom­mon symp­tom you’re expe­ri­enc­ing for the first time, you need to call 911 or go to the emer­gency room.

Here are 6 rea­sons you should imme­di­ate­ly seek emer­gency assistance.

1. Your Headache or Migraine Is Paired with New Symptoms

If you’re suf­fer­ing from a headache or migraine, and are expe­ri­enc­ing new symp­toms like trou­ble see­ing, a fever, or con­fu­sion, call 911. Any of these symp­toms com­bined could pos­si­bly be a sign of a seri­ous health con­di­tion like menin­gi­tis, stroke or an aneurysm, which needs to be treat­ed by an emer­gency care team.

2. You Sud­den­ly Expe­ri­ence Prob­lems Seeing 

If you expe­ri­ence a sud­den intense headache with blurred vision and eye pain, you should seek care right away. You might have acute angle-clo­sure glau­co­ma — an eye con­di­tion that dam­ages your optic nerve, which helps you to see. 

This is con­sid­ered an emer­gency because if it’s not treat­ed it can cause you to go blind. The emer­gency team will relieve the flu­id pres­sure (intraoc­u­lar pres­sure, or IOP) in your eyes with med­i­cine and eye drops when caught right away. 

3. You Have a Fever and a Headache or Migraine 

Some­times a headache with a fever can be the cold or flu, but then there are times where it can be much more seri­ous. If your symp­toms include a headache, fever and stiff neck, it could pos­si­bly be bac­te­r­i­al menin­gi­tis. Your pro­tec­tive mem­brane — the lay­er of tis­sue that cov­ers your spinal cord and brain — begins to swell when there’s an infec­tion because bac­te­ria has entered your body.

This is a seri­ous health con­di­tion that requires imme­di­ate atten­tion because if left untreat­ed, it might cause your brain to swell, or worse, death. The good news is that when treat­ed with antibi­otics ear­ly, most peo­ple recover.

4. You Expe­ri­ence Con­fu­sion with a Headache or Migraine

If you, or some­one you know, sud­den­ly has a severe headache and becomes con­fused, these could pos­si­bly be ear­ly warn­ing signs of a stroke. This is an emer­gency and you should call 911. Every sec­ond counts, so if you’re in an ambu­lance your life-sav­ing treat­ment begins immediately.

5. You have Nau­sea and a Headache or Migraine

Feel­ing nau­seous with a severe headache — the most intense headache you can expe­ri­ence — can be a sign of an aor­tic aneurysm. This hap­pens when your large artery — the one that takes blood from your heart and moves it along your chest and tor­so — breaks or tears. 

This news might be over­whelm­ing to hear, but our providers are ful­ly trained and expe­ri­enced in deal­ing with this health issue. They’ll imme­di­ate­ly eval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion and deter­mine if you need med­i­cine to bring down your blood pres­sure, or if surgery is the nec­es­sary next step to fix the aorta. 

6. You’re Preg­nant with High Blood Pres­sure — And a Headache

Every preg­nan­cy jour­ney is dif­fer­ent. Some women have symp­toms, or none at all. It might be con­fus­ing at times to know when some­thing is nor­mal or not, but if you’re expe­ri­enc­ing a headache, trou­ble see­ing, and have high blood pres­sure, you might have preeclampsia.

If you’re preg­nant with high blood pres­sure (a sign of preeclamp­sia), this is a health con­di­tion that’s often referred to as a silent killer” because it usu­al­ly has no symp­toms. High blood pres­sure is the cause for 7.4% of deaths in US preg­nant women. 

If you’ve had a his­to­ry of high blood pres­sure dur­ing your preg­nan­cy, and now you’re expe­ri­enc­ing a headache or migraine, this might be urgent enough to seek imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion if you’re pregnant.

This might sound scary, and we know you want your baby to be healthy, but you’re in great hands. Our mater­nal fetal med­i­cine physicians have the exper­tise to give you and your baby the addi­tion­al med­ical care you might need. Also, preeclamp­sia symp­toms typ­i­cal­ly don’t last more than 6 weeks after you’ve had your baby. For most women, the symp­toms go away with­in that time frame, and they have healthy babies. 

What to Expect When You Go to Imme­di­ate Care

When you arrive at Duly’s Imme­di­ate Care, which is staffed by board-cer­ti­fied emer­gency and fam­i­ly med­i­cine physi­cians, you’ll tell them your symp­toms and they might need to run some tests to find the under­ly­ing cause of your headache or migraine. You know your body so if you don’t feel right, you should always seek imme­di­ate care. They’ll find a treat­ment that is right for you.

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  • I love people and I love medicine. Assisting my patients with their body, mind and spiritual concerns is one of life's greatest privileges. I love personally getting to know them. I enjoy coming along side them, assisting those I see in decision-making related to their health and care. It requires humility, empathy, compassion and constant learning.