Headaches and the Role of Urgent Care

Headaches and the role of urgent care

More than 75% of adults have had a headache in the last year, and many of them are so severe that they require medical intervention at an urgent care. Headaches, and more particularly migraines, are one of the major reasons that people miss work or school.

There are more than 150 types of headaches. These are categorized as either primary or secondary headaches.

A headache is often described as a pain in the head or face that presents as pressure that is constant, throbbing, sharp, or deep and dull.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches include the most common types: tension, along with cluster headaches, and migraines. There’s even a rare disorder known as New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH) that can last for years and is resistant to common treatments.

Generally, primary headaches are caused by:

  • Processed Foods
  • Skipping Meals
  • Alcohol
  • Overexertion
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Nicotine
  • Poor Posture
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Changes in Barometric Pressure

Other symptoms of headaches, particularly migraines include:

  • Auras – these include temporary blind spots, eye pain, blurred vision, seeing stars, zigzag lines, flashing lights, or tunnel vision
  • Mood Changes
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Increased Hunger and Thirst
  • Frequent Urination

Primary headaches are not considered life-threatening, but they are annoying and often disrupt life, so getting help is always a good idea.

Headache symptoms

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are a symptom of an underlying medical condition like dehydration or a sinus infection.

However, there are secondary headaches that are very serious and could be the result of a life-threatening condition. These include a head injury or brain bleed. Secondary headaches are often present with a sudden and severe rise in blood pressure. All of these conditions require immediate medical attention.

Please call 911, if you suspect that a person has one of these medical conditions.

How to Tell if It’s a Headache or a Migraine

Throughout the world, about 40% of people suffer from primary, tension headaches and 10% experience migraine headaches.

A migraine is a headache that causes severe throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last from four to 72 hours.

Scientists and doctors believe that a migraine is the result of abnormal brain activity that affects nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain.

Migraines can be managed with preventive and pain-relieving medications. If you live in Arizona and need an urgent care provider, start here to get help.

Headaches frequently run in families, especially migraines. Children who experience migraines typically have at least one biological parent who also has them. Studies show that children whose parents have migraines are up to four times more likely to develop them.

When to visit an urgent care for a headache

When to Visit an Urgent Care for a Headache

Plan to visit an urgent care facility for a headache if it feels severe, doesn’t let up, or doesn’t improve with over-the-counter medications. 

Urgent care providers can diagnose headaches and provide treatment options, such as:

  • Medications that may include an injection of a high-dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and possibly an anti-nausea medication
  • Prescription pain relief medication
  • Lifestyle changes to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches
  • Referring you to a specialist for additional care

If you experience migraine headaches or other types of headaches, our medical providers suggest keeping a diary to help us identify the type of headache you’re having. Write down the day and time. How long the headache lasted and the severity on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being extreme pain.

Also, write down any medications you are taking that day, the food you have eaten, and any other triggers or symptoms you may have experienced.

Getting the right diagnosis is important so you can manage your headaches and find the most suitable treatments to live your best life. Remember that we’re here to help you through it all!


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