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Migraine Headaches (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

You may be more likely to get migraines if you:

  • Have a family history of migraines.
  • Are female. Women are 3 times more likely than men to get migraines.
  • Are a teenager or young adult. Migraines often begin during these years.
  • Have depression, anxiety, asthma, or epilepsy.

When to Call a Doctor

Callor other emergency services if:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke, such as:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.

Call your doctor now or go to the emergency room if:

  • You have a fever and a stiff neck.
  • You have new nausea and vomiting, or you cannot keep food or liquids down.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your headache does not get better within 24 hours.
  • Your headache wakes you up at night.
  • Your headaches get worse or happen more often.
  • You develop new symptoms.
  • You have any problems with your medicine, or your medicine isn't helping your headaches.
  • You are older than 50 and have new or more frequent headaches.
  • Your headaches occur after physical exercise, sexual activity, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Your life is disrupted by your headaches (for example, you often miss work or school).

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor watch your symptoms or condition without using medical treatment. Watchful waiting may be fine if you have recently been diagnosed with migraines and over-the-counter medicines are controlling your pain.

Who to see

Health professionals who may diagnose and treat your migraines include the following:

If you think your headaches might be linked to depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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