Is My Headache an Emergency?

Headaches are one of the most common conditions that affect people on a day-to-day basis. Headaches can be a mild discomfort or can be excruciating pain, which makes the condition so complex.

The good news is that most headaches don’t indicate a serious problem, but when they do, immediate action needs to be taken in order to avoid danger or even death. Our AFC Urgent Care Gastonia team shares all the details about headaches below.

What Are the Classifications of Headaches?

Headaches are broken down into two categories, primary and secondary headaches. The vast majority of headaches are primary! “Primary headaches” are the result of overactivity within the pain-sensitive structures inside your brain, but don’t indicate a serious underlying issue. Some examples of primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches.

“Secondary headaches” aren’t as common but are much more dangerous. These headaches can indicate a problem within your body like a blood clot, brain tumor or a stroke and are often accompanied by other systemic signs, like the symptoms listed below.

Signs of a Serious Headache

  • Sudden and severe pain
  • Pain accompanied by fever or stiff neck
  • Headaches after an injury or accident
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or paralysis on the body

When Do I Need to Seek Medical Attention for a Headache?

Whenever you are experiencing the symptoms above or your headache pain is severe, it is recommended to be seen as quickly as possible to help catch any serious issues. Once you have been evaluated, a CT scan or MRI will most likely be ordered to look for something like a blood clot or a tumor.

If something serious is discovered during these tests, you will be required to stay for treatment or you will be referred to a specialist. If it is determined that your headache is due to a primary cause, your care provider will discuss lifestyle changes and possible medications to control the pain.

At-Home Care for a Primary Headache

  • Drink water.
  • Get plenty of rest in a quiet, dark room.
  • Take an OTC pain reliever or an anti-inflammatory.
  • Drink a small amount of caffeine.

Headaches are something to always take seriously. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, stop by AFC Urgent Care Gastonia for a diagnosis.