Is Your Headache Telling You Something? When to Seek Medical Attention


Headaches can be classified into two categories - primary and secondary. The former has no underlying cause while the latter results from an underlying condition that triggers pain-sensitive areas in the neck and head. Knowing which category your headache falls under is crucial in determining the most suitable treatment.

In most cases, mild headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, if the pain persists, it’s best to seek advice from a healthcare professional who could offer medical advice for your headache and rule out underlying issues like severe dehydration, high blood pressure, heatstroke and a brain tumour.

If you’re not sure how to differentiate a common headache from a severe one, here are some indicators that you need to pay a visit to your doctor.

-  You’re experiencing headaches more often than usual

-  Your headaches are accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Stiff neck
  • Weakness

-  You need to take pain relievers for your headache more than twice a week.

-  The recommended dosage for over-the-counter medicines does not relieve the pain.

-  Your headache is interfering with day-to-day activities.

-  Your headache occurs after you’ve experienced a head injury or other forms of trauma.

-  Strenuous activities like exercising worsen your headache.


Headaches don’t need to have an underlying cause to be considered an emergency. Even primary headaches may require medical care. Here are the three types that you might need to see a doctor about:

1.      Tension Headaches

The most common type of headache, tension headaches can be caused by several factors, including stress, muscle tension and even genetics. Moderate pain on both sides of the head or the back of the head and neck area are commonly felt with this type of headache.

Tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. However, chronic headaches may require prescription medication. Your doctor may also recommend making lifestyle changes such as observing a good sleep schedule, exercising regularly and adopting relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

2.      Migraines

A migraine headache can be caused by genetics or a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is marked by intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head. It is also often accompanied by light sensitivity, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Treatment will depend on a case-to-case basis. Your doctor may prescribe medication for immediate relief and for preventing future episodes.

3.      Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are sudden, severe, and often felt behind one eye. The pain tends to occur in waves multiple times a day. Each episode can last anywhere from an hour to three hours. The most common causes include tobacco and alcohol use, heat and light exposure and consumption of food that contains nitrates.

Cluster headaches have no cure. However, your doctor may recommend ways to decrease the severity and frequency of pain. Some methods include oxygen treatment, quitting smoking and taking prescription medications like Verapamil and Prednisone.


Get Help from the UK’s Trusted Healthcare Provider

If you’re experiencing a severe and concerning headache, don’t wait until tomorrow to see a healthcare specialist. At Vista Health, we’ll ensure that you receive the highest level of care. Our doctors will assess your situation thoroughly to determine the ideal treatment.

In some cases, we might recommend that you undergo tests so that we may provide a more accurate diagnosis. You can be confident that our MRI scans are highly reliable.

For enquiries, give us a call at 0370 218 6566. You may also book an appointment online.

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