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Migraine Headache FAQs (cont.)

Who gets migraine headaches?

A recent US study found that more Caucasians have migraine headaches than blacks or Asians.

Migraine headaches affect women more than men.

The number of boys and girls who get migraines appears to be similar, but the prevalence of migraine in females begins to climb during the teenage years. By early adulthood, migraines are 3 times as frequent in women as in men.

Should a person with migraine headaches see a doctor?

Yes! A person with any type of intense headache, especially a recurring one, may have a life-threatening underlying condition. A doctor's evaluation is definitely necessary. If the doctor makes a diagnosis of migraine headache, various treatments are available. These treatments can significantly improve a migraineur's quality of life.

A doctor should be called if a person experiences any of the following problems:

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the migraines typically experienced
  • A progressively worsening headache that lasts for days
  • A headache brought on by what doctors call Valsalva maneuvers (coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet)
  • Large weight loss (unintentional)
  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after a headache stops

A person who has any of the following should go or be taken to a hospital emergency department:

  • The worst headache of his or her life, especially if the headache comes on suddenly
  • Headache associated with trauma to the head
  • Loss of consciousness associated with trauma to the head
  • Fever or stiff neck associated with a headache
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Paralysis onone side of the body
  • Seizures

What tests are done for people with migraine headaches?

Most migraineurs have normal examination findings. The diagnosis of migraine headache is made solely on the symptoms a migraineur describes to the doctor.

Other possible causes of headache include stroke, tension, meningitis (infection of the brain's coverings), or sinus infections. The following tests and images may be performed or taken if the doctor thinks a person's headaches are being caused by something other than migraines:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2016
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