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Expert advice on advanced diagnosis and treatment of painful headaches and migraines from the leading headache clinic in New Jersey.

Headaches: When to Go to a Neurologist & When to Visit the ER

Gabriel Santos - Sunday, May 01, 2016

Headaches are a part of life and, from time to time, everybody is going to get one. Whether they’re connected with stress at work or in your family life, or you only get them when you’re feeling under the weather, headaches aren’t uncommon.

Migraines can be a more serious problem, however. A migraine can make it difficult to function and put you in dangerous situations if you get them at the wrong time, like when you’re behind the wheel of your car.

If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, you might be wondering whether you need to go to the hospital when you get a particularly bad one. While the emergency room is there for you, there are times when making an appointment with a neurologist is a better option.

Keep reading to learn more about when you should visit the emergency room and when you need to pick up the phone and schedule a meeting with a neurologist instead.

Regular Headaches

The word “regular” is a little tricky since it’s one that many people define differently. Even when discussing headaches, it’s hard to put an exact definition on what “regular” really means.

If you’re having more than one headache per week, you need to be checked out. You don’t need an emergency room visit to do this though. Make an appointment with a neurologist. They can help manage your headaches or migraines and figure out a plan that may be able to keep them at bay for good.

Inability to Eat or Drink

Nausea is a common symptom of migraine headaches, but even individuals just experiencing a severe headache can suffer it. If you’ve been in pain for a long period of time – more than a few hours, for example – you likely won’t be able to eat or drink much comfortably.

If you can’t take food or fluids, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, especially if your headache is accompanied by vomiting. In this case, you may need to visit the emergency room if your symptoms don’t pass within a day.

You can’t go without fluids or nutrition for too long, especially if you can’t keep anything down. You’ll likely be in serious pain as well, and a doctor can help you ease that pain so your headache can pass and then you can get to a neurologist who can look into the root cause of your headaches or migraines.

Uncontrollable Pain

Regular headaches and migraines both cause pain. For some people, particularly with migraines, that pain can be quite severe. Most headaches and migraines only last a fairly short period of time though.

When you’re dealing with pain that’s uncontrollable and won’t go away, you may need to take a two-pronged approach. If over-the-counter pain relievers and techniques like relaxation or sipping broth don’t work, you may need immediate medical attention.

You will still want to make an appointment with a neurologist, however. They’ll be able to better diagnose and treat why you’re having headaches or migraines with pain so intolerable that you had to go to the emergency room.

New Jersey Headache Institute

Contact the New Jersey Headache Institute, founded by neurologist Dr. Payman Sadeghi, if you are suffering from regular headaches or migraines. We’ve been working with headache patients for years, improving their quality of life, and we look forward to working with you, too.    



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