Understanding When Your Headache Requires a Doctor Visit

Personal Primary Care Dr. Talal Khan

Headaches have a way of hijacking your life, as you cope with both the discomfort and the inability to think clearly because of head pain. While headaches are part and parcel of life, often accompanying other illnesses or coming on after a long, stressful day, there are times when you need to sit up and take notice.

At Personal Primary Care, under the experienced guidance of Dr. Talal Khan, our team handles medical issues of all kinds, helping our patients in East Longmeadow and Springfield, Massachusetts, navigate their lives with the least amount of bumps in the road, health-wise. And headaches can often represent more than a bump.

Here’s a look at the different types of headaches and when you’d do well to get them checked out.


Let’s start with the leader of the headache pack when it comes to debilitating head pain — migraines. These neurological events aren’t part of another illness, but stand alone as a primary condition that can wreak havoc on your life. More than 38 million people in the United States suffer from migraines and 2-3 million of them have chronic migraines, which is defined as more than 15 headaches a month. And 15 headaches is an awful lot to deal with over the course of just 30 days.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common cause of head pain, the hallmark of which is a feeling of tightness around your head, which can range from mild to severe. These headaches, too, can develop into a chronic problem, with more than 15 headache days a month. Episodic tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to an entire week over a total of less than 15 days a month.

Secondary headaches

In many cases, a headache may be brought on by another condition, such as sinus issues. If you’re suffering from a cold or allergies, the sinus congestion can lead to a very painful headache. In addition to sinus problems, there’s a long list of conditions that may bring on a headache, from dehydration to encephalitis.

Get help

Whether you’re an old hand with headache pain or this experience is new to you, there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to seeking medical help for your headaches.

First and foremost, if your head pain is sidelining you from your life, it’s important that you come and see us. In all the headaches listed above, there are effective treatment protocols that can help you get back to your life. This holds especially true if your headaches resist over-the-counter remedies.

If your headaches are becoming more frequent, even if they’re not severe, it’s a good idea to have us check you out to make sure there isn’t another problem we should be addressing.

Aside from frequency, if your headaches are becoming progressively worse, this represents another red flag that you should pay attention to.

It’s important to note that if your head pain comes on suddenly, is severe, and you feel dizzy or disoriented, please call 9-1-1 or get to your nearest emergency room.

How we can help

As we mentioned above, there are many treatment protocols when it comes to head pain. After we sit down with you and review your symptoms as well as your medical history, we perform a full assessment of your health to see where the problem lies.

If your headaches are primary, there are a number of tools we can use, from prescription medications to treatments like BOTOX® that help reduce the frequency of your headaches. There are also some very effective management solutions that we can tailor to your unique situation, such as trigger avoidance and relaxation techniques.

If your head pain is the result of another condition, we work to address the root cause. For example, during the spring months, many of our patients experience severe head pain which is caused by hay fever and sinus congestion — two issues we’re adept at treating.

The bottom line is that if your headaches are derailing your life, please don’t hesitate to call for help. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.

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