Headaches and Migraines
Headaches are very common. In fact, it’s been estimated that between 60 and 70 million Americans have experienced some form of headache. They are one of the most frequent reasons that people take medicine or see health care providers. The good news is that a range of over-the-counter and prescription treatments are available as well as non-pharmacologic ways to manage headaches and migraines. It can be hard to know when to seek medical treatment and how to find the right providers. So here are some general rules of thumb.
When to Seek Medical Help
If you are wondering if it is time to seek medical treatment for your headaches consider the following questions:
- Are your headaches interfering with your life in terms of work, school, family or social activities?
- Have your headaches become more frequent or more severe?
- Are over-the-counter medications no longer effective or do you worry that you might be taking too much?
- Have you gone to the emergency room for a headache?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you should discuss your headaches with a medical professional. We recommend starting with your primary care provider.
When to See a Neurologist
After talking with their PCP, some people find that their headaches are so severe, incapacitating, or resistant to treatment that they would benefit from seeing a neurologist. Your PCP can facilitate this consultation. To determine if you should seek care from a neurologist, you and your physician may consider the following:
- Are you dissatisfied with your current medications or treatment regimen? For example, the medications do not relieve your headaches, you have side effects that you cannot tolerate, or your headaches often return after treatment.
- Do you experience headache on 15 or more days per month?
- Have you recently experienced a headache that is significantly different than other headaches you have had or that you would describe as the worst headache of your life?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you and your doctor may determine that you should follow up with a headache specialist and a consultation in our office may be requested.
The board certified neurologists at the Erlanger Neuroloscience Institute evaluate and treat many types of headaches. Diagnostic testing and treatment options vary depending on the headache type, and both non-pharmacologic options (physical therapy, environmental changes) and medication options for headache prevention and acute treatment will be discussed at your visit. Our staff includes physicians who are trained in the injection of BOTOX®, which has been shown to be helpful in treating chronic migraine headaches in adults.