Headaches can feel like a never-ending throb or other pain somewhere in the head – and this prevents you from focusing and carrying out your usual activities. So what can you do when this pain is persistent? What can you do when a headache won’t go away?
Headache disorders are one of the most common conditions that a person can experience. The Global Burden of Disease recently launched a study on headaches and concluded that it is the most prevalent condition worldwide. An estimated 52% of headaches were found in the vast majority of high-income countries alone.
Headaches can be experienced with pain in your face or head. Its symptoms include a constant painful throbbing or other type of pain that often leaves people unable to concentrate on their activities. But this symptom doesn’t apply to every headache because there are about 150 types of headaches with varying degrees of pain, associated symptoms, and length.
Common Causes of a Headache.
There isn’t one right answer on what causes a headache. However, what is known is that there is a mechanism that activates these pain signals in the trigeminal system due to various triggers, such as photosensitivity, food, dietary triggers, and other underlying diseases. As we wrote in our previous blog post on ‘Cluster Headaches Through the Changing Seasons’, headaches could also be connected to the changing of seasons. It has long been suspected that changing influences on the hypothalamus can cause headaches. So when sleep patterns or light exposure changes, this affects biological rhythms and can influence the hypothalamus in cluster headache and possibly other headache disorders such as migraine too.
What Can You Do If Headaches Persist?
See a Doctor
If you are having a persistent headache, then this should be your first step. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that while not all headaches require a physician or a nurse practitioner’s help, there are headaches that might signal serious disorders that would need medical care. Therefore, any form of headache should be evaluated by your doctor. Persistent, severe, chronic, and/or sudden headaches that are accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, neck pains, chest pain, fever, vomiting, or other neurological symptoms (visual changes, dizziness, numbness, weakness, changes in speech, or confusion) warrant immediate calls to a doctor and/or calling 911 for an ambulance to transport to the local emergency department for evaluation.
Severe headaches might signal an underlying disease. Some headaches could mean that blood flow in the brain has stopped and there is a risk of a stroke. Headaches could also signal bleeding in the brain or around the brain. It might also mean that there is an infection or swelling in the brain. These are emergent situations and require emergent evaluations.
Schedule a Virtual Consultation
If you can't visit your doctor, you aren’t getting answers or adequate treatment plans, or if you are experiencing headaches of lesser severity or a longer standing problem (not an acute, emergent problem which should be evaluated by your local emergency department), it might be easier to schedule a virtual appointment to make things more convenient and comfortable. Virtual consultations can be a supplement to your doctor visit, and you have access to remote doctors and nurse practitioners in your state that can provide information and treatments for your headaches. Speaking to a virtual headache specialist at Cleveland Clinic or your closest headache center can help you manage your headaches. They can be reached by Americans anywhere in the country looking for headache specialists through telehealth. If state laws prevent being able to do a virtual visit with a headache specialist out of your home state or country, another option for anyone in any state or country is a virtual second opinion, offered by Cleveland Clinic.
These doctors and nurse specialists are very competent, especially because remote nurse practitioners in Ohio are trained to offer primary and urgent care treatment for front-line care. They are state-licensed with years of experience and added training for virtual healthcare. Likewise, these virtual care doctors and medical providers are required to accomplish all training required for every doctor with special training for healthcare that is conducted virtually.
Take Prescription Medicine
Cleveland Clinic explains that headache medicines can give people relief from the pain that headaches can cause. There are over-the-counter pain medicines you can take, but it is best to get medicine that is prescribed to you by your doctor. In taking medicine, you should be cautious and consult your healthcare provider on what is best to take for your condition. In general, for headache disorders you should have an abortive (as needed) treatment option for when attacks happen, and a preventive treatment option if the headaches occur frequently or are severe and disruptive to normal functioning. Abortive options includea gepant, ditan, triptan, DHE, or neuromodulation device. Preventive treatments include a daily pill, a monthly/quarterly CGRP monoclonal antibody (Aimovig, Ajovy, Emgality, Vyepti) treatment, a gepant, Botox, neuromodulation device, herbal and natural supplements and vitamins, yoga and meditation, and acupuncture and acupressure.
Toni Cortez is a healthcare writer. Her goal is to help her readers understand any illnesses or underlying conditions they may have. Aside from her interest in the mind's physiology, she is also interested in documentaries and music.
*This blog article was written primarily by Toni Cortez, with edits and additions from Dr. Eric Baron.
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