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Migraine Headache (cont.)

When Should I See a Doctor for a Migraine?

Call a doctor or other health care professional if any of the following occur:

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the migraine commonly experienced
  • A new, progressive headache that lasts for days
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet, or other physical straining
  • Significant unintentional loss of body weight
  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after the headache

Go to a hospital emergency department if any of the following occur:

  • Having the worst headache ever, especially if the headache had a sudden onset
  • Headache associated with trauma to the head or loss of consciousness
  • Fever or stiff neck associated with headache
  • Decreased level of consciousness or confusion
  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Seizure

How Can I Tell If I Have a Migraine or Another Type of Headache?

The diagnosis of migraine headache rests solely on what a patient describes to a doctor or other medical professional. A doctor's physical examination of the patient typically reveals nothing out of the ordinary; however, a neurological examination will be performed to rule out other causes of headache.

Other causes include other types of headaches such as tension or cluster headache, stroke, tumor, inflammation of a blood vessel, and infection of the brain's coverings (meningitis) or of the sinuses. In these cases these tests may be ordered.

6 Migraine Natural Home Remedies for Pain

Most people with this type of headache can manage the pain of mild-to-moderate attacks at home by:

  1. Using a cold compress on the area of pain
  2. Resting with pillows comfortably supporting the head or neck
  3. Resting in a room with little or no sensory stimulation (from light, sound, or odors)
  4. Withdrawing from stressful surroundings
  5. Sleeping
  6. Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine

Migraine Headache OTC (Over-the-Counter) Treatment for Pain

Several OTC medications may help with head pain, for example:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): These include medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen. Stomach ulcers and bleeding are serious potential side effects. This type of medicine should not be taken by anyone with a history of stomach bleeding. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible medicine interactions if the you are taking other drugs.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Acetaminophen may be safely taken with NSAIDs for an additive effect. Taking acetaminophen by itself is usually safe, even with a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding. Acetaminophen should not be taken if you have liver disorders or has three or more alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Combination medications: Some over-the-counter pain relievers have been approved for use with migraine. These include Excedrin Migraine, which contains acetaminophen and aspirin combined with caffeine. A similar effect can be achieved by taking two aspirin or acetaminophen tablets with a cup of black coffee.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Migraine Headache »

Migraines are severe, throbbing headaches frequently located in the temples or frontal head regions.

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