Should I Call the Doctor for My Headache?

Should I Call the Doctor for My Headache? - Large

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Most headaches aren't serious. Mostly, they’re a nagging aggravation that you can take care of by yourself with an over-the-counter pain medication. Or by passing up certain foods, activities and other triggers you know can make your head pound.

If you experience a headache that varies in intensity from previous headaches or lasts longer than you’re used to, call your doctor.

Sometimes, though, headaches are more than an annoyance.

“Headaches can sometimes be a symptom of a serious, underlying condition that needs medical attention,” says Ann DeClue, MD. “For instance, headaches often accompany high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. They also can be associated with stroke, cancer and other diseases.”

Dr. DeClue adds, “ If you experience a headache that varies in intensity from previous headaches or lasts longer than you’re used to, call your doctor so you can determine if there’s more to it than a headache.”

Call Your Doctor About a Headache…Should I Call the Doctor for My Headache? - In Content

When you encounter any of the following:

  • Worst headache you’ve ever had, or differs from your usual headache
  • Severe headache accompanied by fever, nausea, or vomiting unrelated to another illness
  • Headache with loss of sensation or weakness in any part of the body. This could be a sign of stroke.
  • Persistent headache if you’ve previously been headache-free, particularly if you’re over age 50
  • New headaches if you have a history of cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • Two or more headaches in a week or having to take more than the recommended dose of over-the-counter headache medicine
  • High fever and stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, convulsions or shortness of breath with headache
  • Persistent headache that worsens
  • Lingering headache after a recent head injury
  • Headaches that come on quickly
  • Headaches that make routine activities difficult
  • Migraine headache symptoms change
  • Headache accompanied by slurred speech, changes in vision, numbness or weakness in arms or legs or confusion
  • Headache that lasts longer than three days
  • Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
  • Recurring headache in children

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

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