When to see a doctorBy Mayo Clinic staff
Seek emergency care
A headache can be a symptom of a serious condition, such as a stroke, meningitis or encephalitis. Go to a hospital emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number if you have the worst headache of your life, a sudden, severe headache or a headache accompanied by:
- Confusion or trouble understanding speech
- High fever, greater than 102 F to 104 F (39 C to 40 C)
- Numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of your body
- Stiff neck
- Trouble seeing
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble walking
- Nausea or vomiting (if not clearly related to the flu or a hangover)
Schedule a doctor's visit
See a doctor if you experience headaches that:
- Occur more frequently than usual
- Are more severe than usual
- Worsen or don't improve with appropriate use of over-the-counter drugs
- Prevent you from working, sleeping or participating in normal activities
- Cause you distress, and you would like to find treatment options that enable you to control them better
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