When to See a Doctor for Treatment for a Migraine Headache

Quincy AdamMigraine Learn

Consultation With Doctor In Office
If you frequently suffer from pounding headaches that you believe might be migraines, it’s important to visit a medical professional for a correct diagnosis. Your visit serves a couple of purposes.

First, it enables you to determine whether you are suffering from a migraine or another condition that could be even more severe. Second, your doctor will be able to provide you with advice and treatment for your migraine headache, enabling you to minimize occurrences and the associated pain.

To get the best advice from your doctor, you need to supply some information that only you can know. Your doctor will be interested in the circumstances under which your headaches occur, the severity of them, if you experience any other symptoms and the medications you’re taking. Also, make sure you know whether there is a history of headaches or migraines within your family. That’s because migraines can be an inherited health condition.

No test will tell you conclusively that you suffer from migraines. So, the doctor will use the information you provide along with tests that rule out other causes for headaches to confirm a migraine diagnosis. These include a physical exam, neurological exam, blood tests, urinalysis, imaging, neuroimaging and electroencephalogram (EEG).

When to Seek Emergency Care

In some situations, you should get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Ask someone else to drive you there.

If you’re experiencing severe pain that is not responding to the regular over-the-counter and prescription drugs that you use, you may need to go to the emergency room where there are additional medicines available to provide relief. For quick results, most of these medications are delivered intravenously or as a shot. Also, if you are dehydrated, the emergency room staff may rehydrate you intravenously.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with migraines, but you are experiencing symptoms that are unusual for you, it’s time to seek immediate attention. You don’t want to self-diagnose. Head pain and related neurological symptoms could be related to another serious health issue, such as an aneurysm, stroke, meningitis or concussion. Symptoms that warrant an emergency room visit might include:

  • A headache that is even more painful than your regular migraines. Perhaps it even woke you up from a dead sleep.
  • Symptoms that are different from those you’ve previously experienced. They might include having difficulty speaking, dizzy spells, problems with balance, pins and needles, blurry vision, blind spots, numbness and confusion.
  • A body temperature that is above normal.
  • A stiff neck, seizures, or vomiting and nausea.
  • A recent head injury.
  • A headache that started all of a sudden like a thunderbolt.

Emergency room doctors will operate with an abundance of caution and will want you to undergo tests such as a Computed Tomography (CT) scan or spinal tap. These procedures help determine whether you have any bleeding on your brain, have had a stroke or have meningitis. If your symptoms are no different to those you usually experience with migraines, these tests may be unnecessary.

Play it Safe

You’re reading this article now, so it’s clear that you like to educate yourself on health matters. Keep in mind, however, that the best advice and healthcare will come from medical professionals. If you have one iota of doubt about the severity of your condition, visit your doctor, or in some cases the emergency room, as soon as possible. If you take these steps, you’ll be more likely to get the necessary treatment for a migraine headache or whatever other condition ails you.