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Worst Headache of Your Life (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Contact a health care practitioner or emergency department under the following circumstances:

  • You are experiencing the worst headache of your life, especially if you rarely suffer from headaches. Having the worst headache of your life, especially if you rarely suffer from headaches, makes it an emergent situation.
  • A headache associated with a fever. If the headache and fever are accompanied by a stiff neck, go to an emergency department immediately for evaluation.
  • When more than one family member has a headache at the same time, especially in the winter in cold climates where carbon monoxide exposure could be a possibility
  • Any headache that is clearly out of the ordinary for you
  • People already diagnosed with migraine whose home care plans have failed to produce acceptable pain relief, or if the intense headache differs in character from your usual migraine headache

Go to a hospital emergency department immediately under the following circumstances:

  • The worst headache of your life, especially if it starts like a "thunderclap" (very suddenly)
  • A headache following a head injury
  • A headache with loss of vision or numbness or weakness of your arms or legs
  • Someone diagnosed with migraine headache but it does not improve significantly with home-care
  • Any headache with unusual associated symptoms, especially in people who rarely suffer from headaches
  • A headache with a fever (not obviously caused by the flu), especially if it is associated with a stiff neck
  • Any other headache that you feel may be an emergency medical condition
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/12/2014

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