emergency careSeeking out emergency care for a headache might seem a little silly. Take a painkiller and you’ll be just fine, right? Not always! In some cases, a severe headache or a migraine may require emergency care. Not sure when to go to urgent care or the emergency room for a headache or migraine? Here are the symptoms you need to look out for.

An Abnormal Migraine

If you suffer regularly from migraines, you know what a “normal” migraine attack feels like. The symptoms range from unpleasant to nearly debilitating, but in most cases your symptoms will present the same way every time you have a migraine. But if you notice a new or unusual symptom accompanying your migraine, that’s when it becomes crucial to pay close attention to how you’re feeling. At this point, it may be wise to seek emergency medical care for your condition. Not sure what kinds of new symptoms you should be looking out for? The following symptoms are indicators that you may need emergency medical attention.

  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Extreme dizziness or loss of balance
  • Numbness or paralysis
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Loss of vision
  • Worsening pain that does not respond to normal relief techniques

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately and seek out medical care. There could be an underlying issue or you may need specialized migraine treatment.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Whether you suffer from migraines on a regular basis or you’ve never had one before, underlying and pre-existing conditions are important to pay attention to. Sometimes what might seem like a migraine attack may actually be related to or caused by another condition or triggering event. For example, pregnancy-related migraines naturally come with hormonal swings and physical changes. But severe headaches and migraines during pregnancy are often associated with life-threatening conditions like preeclampsia. Any severe headache or migraine during pregnancy or in relation to another pre-existing condition should receive medical attention.

Almost 70% of ER visits are for non-emergency or preventable conditions, but migraines can be a different story. Severe head pain could be indicative of an underlying issue or could exacerbate an already-existing condition. In any case, it’s not normal. So if you notice any of the things we talked about today during a migraine, make sure you seek medical attention.