When is a Headache a Medical Concern?

When is a Headache a Medical Concern?

Everyone experiences headaches here and there, and usually they’re harmless. Stress, illness, and migraines often lead to headache pain that disrupts your life. However, in some cases, headaches are a sign of something much more serious. It’s important to understand when you should get immediate treatment for headache pain.

At Delmarva Pain and Spine Center, our team specializes in treating pain from a variety of different sources. Dr. Shachi Patel is our in-house pain management expert, who offers specialized care for headaches when they’re affecting your daily activities.

Different types of headaches

There are many different types of headaches, and each one affects your body differently. Headaches can be either acute or chronic, and range in severity. There are a few common types of headaches, which include:


These headaches are often very severe, and are triggered by something, such as a change in the weather or bright lights. Some migraines come with an aura, which is usually a visual change that occurs before your migraine strikes. They can be chronic, and last for hours or days at a time.

Cluster headaches

These headaches aren’t common, but are severe in nature. They’re called cluster headaches because they come in spurts of several headaches at a time. They’re more common in men than women, and happen between one and three months, several times a day. Only one side of your head is involved in the pain.

Tension headaches

This type of headache is very common, and usually occurs because of stress, extreme fatigue, or problems with your jaw or neck muscles. They don’t always occur frequently, but in some cases, they happen more than a few times a week. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours at a time.

What triggers headaches?

Headaches come on for a variety of different reasons. Whether you suffer from chronic headaches or they come on randomly, it’s important to find out what actually brings them on in the first place. Some common triggers of headaches and migraines include:

It may be difficult to figure out what triggers an acute headache, but if you suffer from chronic headaches, the onset often follows something that brings on the pain. 

Many headaches are painful, but harmless. However, there are circumstances when a headache may signal a more serious medical problem. It’s vital to understand your headaches, so you know if the changes are a sign of something more severe.

When you should seek treatment for a headache

While most headaches aren’t a reason for concern, there are instances when headaches are a sign of a bigger issue. If you have any abnormal symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care. You should also get treatment if you have a headache with:

Any headache that occurs after an accident or injury should be evaluated by our team right away. This could be a sign of a concussion or bleeding within your brain. A stroke or meningitis are other causes of headaches that put your life in danger.

If you’re ever in doubt of your headache pain, or you don’t normally experience headaches and one comes on suddenly, it’s best to seek treatment right away.

How are headaches treated?

Dr. Patel treats your headache based on your symptoms and the root cause of the problem. She thoroughly listens to your symptoms and how frequently you experience headaches to come up with the best route of treatment.

Managing your stress helps you when you’re suffering from tension headaches. This can include meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques to help you relax your muscles. Keeping an eye on your posture also helps with tension-related headaches.

Medications are also available to help with migraines and other types of chronic headaches. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for pain management. Dr. Patel also uses ketamine therapy to get rid of your headaches when other treatments haven’t worked.

Ketamine infusions are monitored, and you often see results right away. While it’s not for everyone, ketamine therapy is very helpful when your headaches are ruling your life.

Dr. Patel also suggests lifestyle modifications to ease your chronic headaches. This includes figuring out your triggers, and avoiding them as much as possible. Dr. Patel and her team take the time to not only relieve your pain, but treat any underlying cause of your headaches.

Don’t let your headaches spiral out of control — call our office today at 302-355-0900 to schedule a consultation. You can also book an appointment with our team on the website.

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