If you’re experiencing worse than occasional headaches, it may be time to ask for help. Specialists from Keck Medicine of USC share potential underlying causes and treatments.
Occasional headaches are normal. But if your pain is chronic, severe or includes other symptoms, it’s time to get checked out.
Your family physician can help you decide if you need to seek advanced care for your symptoms.
Experts from Keck Medicine of USC share common causes of headache and the specialists best suited to help.
A migraine is more than just a bad headache.
“Symptoms can include sensory sensitivity, vomiting, dizziness or brain fog,” says Keck Medicine neurologist Lauren Green, DO. Keeping a migraine journal will help your doctor determine the best treatment.
Prevent and treat migraines: lifestyle adjustments, prescription medication, wearable nerve-stimulation devices
“An MRI will typically rule out spinal nerve compression as the cause,” he says. “Migraine and tension headaches are much more common.”
Healing and pain management: physical therapy, steroid or nerve block injections, surgery
Ear, Nose and Throat
“It’s rare, but infections can cause meningitis or a clot in a blood vessel,” Dr. Sinha says. If you have severe, painkiller-resistant headaches with eye problems, fever or strokelike symptoms, call 911.
Routine and emergency care: allergy pills or injections, intravenous antibiotics, anticoagulants for thrombosis, surgery
Lifestyle management and medication may be a first step to relief.
Treat the cause: diabetes: modified glucose management; hyperthyroidism: medication; pituitary tumors: surgery
Lowered estrogen levels may cause intense headaches and migraines.
Get personalized treatment: triptan drugs for migraine, magnesium supplements, hormonal support
“These headaches are persistent and get worse over time,” Dr. Zada says. “Watch for vision changes, seizures or weight loss.”
Depending on size and type: medication, nonsurgical cancer treatments, surgical removal
Important: If you get a sudden, debilitating headache with a stiff neck, seizures, numbness in the face or extremities, a drooping or dilated eye, trouble speaking or loss of consciousness, it could be a stroke or an aneurysm. Call 911 immediately.