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When to Seek Medical Attention for a Headache

The tightness, sensitivity to light and sound, and grogginess — some of us are all too familiar with the symptoms of headaches. Although many types of headaches can go away on their own with the help of proper hydration, medication, or time, it’s essential to understand when it’s time to forget the over-the-counter painkillers and seek medical treatment.

When to See a Doctor for Your Headaches

Common Types of Headaches

While there are many types of headaches, there are certain ones that are more common than others.

Tension Headaches

These often can cause you to feel sensations of dull, aching pain along with sensitivity around your forehead, neck, scalp, or shoulders. They can often be triggered by stress.

Cluster Headaches

These often cause feelings of severe burning or stabbing pain and can be accompanied by facial redness, sweating, and swelling. They come in groups, with each headache lasting 15 minutes to three hours, and can continue daily for months.


These long-lasting headaches cause a deep throbbing within your head and can often prevent you from carrying out your day-to-day tasks. Migraines can also cause disturbances in your vision and be connected to various nervous system issues.

Signs You Should Seek Medical Attention

While certain types of headaches can be treated on your own with over-the-counter medications, certain symptoms signal a need to visit a physician for more serious diagnosis and treatment. These can include:

  • You experience headaches often

  • Your headaches are more severe or sudden

  • Your headache worsens as time goes on

  • Your headaches interfere with your day-to-day activities

  • Your headache is accompanied by:

    • Confusion

    • Fever

    • Shortness of breath

    • Slurred speech

    • Numbness

    • Vision loss

    • Weakness

If you experience any of those conditions or are concerned that your headaches may be more serious than the occasional episode, it’s important to seek proper medical attention to ensure you don’t suffer from a more serious condition.

While Advance ER has many of the same services and standards as a hospital emergency room, we offer various elements in our care that make us different from an urgent care, such as no wait times, on-site specialists, and advanced imaging and lab tools.

If you’re in need of minor or major emergency care, trust our team to treat you quickly and efficiently. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment.