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Headaches vs. Migraines

Headaches vs. Migraines

Treating Severe Headaches and Migraines

After a long, stressful day, it’s not uncommon to get a headache. While most headaches are not a medical emergency, in some cases they can lead to other symptoms that could affect your health. This mostly depends on if you have a severe, secondary headache or migraine.

Here’s how to tell the difference and when to seek treatment:


A headache is categorized by a painful sensation in any part of the head, ranging from sharp to dull. Knowing the cause of your headache and if it’s related to other conditions is essential. There are two main types of headaches:

Primary Headaches

These types of headaches are not considered side effects or resulting from other conditions or diseases. Tension headaches fall into this category, and they are characterized by dull pain or pressure typically around the sides of your head or across the forehead. Cluster headaches are also considered primary headaches, with the sharp, burning sensation usually experienced on either side of your head.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are those attributable to another health condition, causing the nerves within your head to react to the induced pain. Patients with neck or back pain, a sinus infection, or other illnesses may often experience this type of headache.


Migraines are a severe form of headache and can be accompanied by debilitating symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and even temporary vision loss.

Migraines are far more intense than typical headaches and can interfere with the quality of life when they become chronic. The constant pain alone makes it challenging to show up for work and other daily responsibilities.

When to Seek Emergency Treatment

Believe it or not, headaches and migraines are some of the most common reasons for a trip to the emergency room — whether because of a chronic problem or trauma and sickness.

A severe secondary headache or migraine that starts suddenly can signify that you have an underlying health condition. According to the American Migraine Foundation, if you experience these symptoms, you should seek immediate treatment:

  • Fever.
  • Convulsions.
  • Weakness.
  • Vision loss or double vision.
  • Confusion is one of the most concerning symptoms.

Also, patients that have life-threatening medical problems such as liver, heart, or kidney disease, or a disorder that affects their immune system, maybe at an increased risk and should go to the ER to be sure. Be sure to mention your symptoms, any medications you’ve taken, and any changes to your routine.

If you need emergency care for a severe headache or migraine, contact Excel ER at (903) 500-7321 today or stop into any of our locations.


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