When a Migraine is an Emergency

Migraine headaches affect tens of millions of Americans and can have a debilitating impact, making work and home life difficult. Migraine headaches have also been linked to other health conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, seizures and obesity.

Despite being a common medical condition, it’s not always clear what triggers a migraine, how to address it and where to seek treatment. Many patients who suffer from migraines–even after being in and out of doctors’ offices for years–may not realize that sometimes a migraine warrants a trip to a free-standing emergency center.

Man holding head in pain with migraine

Uncovering the Cause, Finding the Type

While frequent migraine sufferers may be aware of the more common migraine triggers like stress, hormonal changes, alcohol, and excess caffeine, lesser known causes can bring the pain just as easily. These include:

  • Weather (especially weather extremes)
  • Hair washing (linked to long hair that’s not dried well)
  • Eye strain (too much screen time)
  • Sulfates (preservative in dried fruits/processed foods)
  • Nitrates (flavor enhancer in cured meats/other food)

Though the term ‘migraine’ is typically used as a catch-all, there are many different types. Determining exactly what type of migraine a patient has is usually based on their symptoms and can be critical to finding the most effective treatment plan. Most patients suffer from one of several common types of migraine, there are other rarer types of severe headaches.

  • Abdominal migraine – mostly affect children and are accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Hemiplegic migraines – paralysis/weakness on one side of the body and other stroke-like symptoms
  • Ophthalmic migraine – repeated visual disturbances, including partial blindness before migraine
  • Ophthalmoplegic migraine – pain behind the eyes and vision issues
  • Menstrual migraine – related to a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • Status migrainosus – severe migraine usually lasting more than 72 hours
  • Vertebrobasilar migraine – vertigo before onset of the headache

Time to Head to an Emergency Center

People struggling with migraines often say that they can, “feel one coming” and they typically suffer from the same symptoms. However, if the migraine symptoms feel different than usual or are accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it could warrant a trip to an emergency room.

  • Sudden, unexpected migraine
  • Issues with speech, vision, awareness
  • Muscle tingling, weakness or convulsions
  • High fever or stiff neck

Additionally, migraine patients who follow their normal steps to find relief but are unsuccessful–or the headache gets worse–should seek immediate medical attention. The migraine may be a sign of another serious medical issue.

The team at The Emergency Center are the experts and have resources available, such as advanced imaging tools and IV medications, to help migraine patients find relief fast. For anyone who has ever had a migraine, nothing seems more important than that.

Enjoy life. We’ll be here for the bumps along the way.

The Emergency Center

Ft. Worth
1101 University Dr.
Ft. Worth, TX 76107

Phone: 817-768-6455

Arlington
3321 S. Cooper St.
Arlington, TX 76015

Phone: 817-224-2887

San Antonio
11320 Alamo Ranch Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78253

Phone: 210-485-3644