My headaches aren’t that bad

Think it’s normal to have weekly headaches?

THINK AGAIN

I meet a lot of people who tell me, “My headaches aren’t that bad.” Upon further investigation, I find that person’s idea of “that bad” is seriously flawed. They tend to think that if they are not as bad off as me or some of my chronic friends, then they don’t need to talk to their doctor.

Generally, by the time they meet me, they are already at or near chronic migraine and/or Medication Overuse Headache. That’s long past the time to seek help. Yet people remain complacent because of false beliefs about headaches. Here are some of the faulty beliefs I’ve encountered:

  • If I can take OTC medicine and the pain goes away, then I’m okay.
  • It’s not serious to have a headache once a week.
  • Lights and sound bother everyone when they have a headache.
  • I don’t want to be a whiner.
  • Taking prescription medicine every day will make the headaches worse.
  • It’s just a headache. The doctor won’t do anything.
  • It’s not like I have migraines or anything.
  • They’re just sinus headaches because I have allergies.
  • It’s just stress.

When to seek medical help for headaches

  • If you are taking any kind of pain medicine (even Tylenol) 3 or more times each week
  • If you are experiencing more than 2 debilitating headaches of any kind in a single month
  • If you are experiencing sensitivity to light, sound, or smell during the headache
  • If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting during the headache.
  • If you are experiencing numbness or tingling just before or during the headache
  • Any change in frequency or severity of headache warrants at least a phone call to your doctor.

When to seek emergency help for headaches

  • If you are experiencing the worst headache of your life
  • If you are experiencing a stiff neck and/or fever in addition to severe headache
  • If you are experiencing paralysis, tingling, numbness in addition to headache
  • If the headache that lasts longer than 72 consecutive hours
  • If the headache that occurs as a result of a head injury – no matter how minor
  • If you are experiencing vertigo, dizziness, altered consciousness in addition to headache

Take the MIDAS to determine your level of migraine disability

Don’t wait until your headaches are “that bad”. Get them diagnosed and treated while they still respond to treatment. Early intervention is one of the best ways to prevent transformation to chronic migraine or chronic daily headache.

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