When Should I See A Doctor About Migraines?

Lindsay Knake

| 2 min read

Lindsay Knake is a brand journalist for Blue Cross Blue...

Having a migraine headache now and again is common for millions of Americans. Experiencing them regularly, however, is a sign you should talk to your doctor about prevention and treatment.
A migraine is a severe headache that causes throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. If untreated, migraines can last from a few hours to a few days. The pain and illness from migraines can leave you feeling weak and fatigued afterward.
Treatments for migraines include common pain relivers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or a combination of the two with caffeine. The latter can use rebound headaches for some people, especially if you’re experiencing migraines regularly.
The occasional migraine is usually not a cause for concern, but new or worsening symptoms can indicate you need to see a health care provider.
Talk to your doctor if:
  • You have migraines regularly and want preventative care.
  • Migraines interfere with your daily life.
  • You have to take multiple doses of pain reliever for each headache.
  • Your own treatment measures no longer work.
  • Your migraines won’t go away.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have side effects from treatment.
  • You notice a change in your migraine patterns.
  • You start having migraines after age 50.
When you go to your doctor, take a record of when you have migraines, the specific symptoms, and a list of potential triggers. Migraines are caused by a variety of triggers, including stress, hormones, and family history. 
Your physician can help you find treatment and pain management strategies, or they may recommend a specialist such as a neurologist. Prescription medications, such as triptans, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonists, and ergots, target migraine pain. Other medications and treatments, including beta blockers, Botox, and CGRP inhibitors, can prevent chronic migraines, according to WebMD. Finding the right medication and lifestyle changes may require trial and error to learn what works best for you.
Call 911 or go to the emergency room if you experience:
  • The worst headache of your life
  • A thunderclap headache, a severe headache that develops within a minute
  • New neurological symptoms such as vision problems, seizures, confusion, difficulty speaking, or balance issues
  • Have a headache after a head injury
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