Acute Headache

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

An acute headache is pain or discomfort that starts suddenly and gets worse quickly.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.

    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Biofeedback:

Electrodes (wires) are placed on your body and attached to a monitor. You will learn how to change stress reactions. For example, you learn to slow your heart rate when you become upset. You may also learn to prevent certain headaches by combining heat with relaxation.

Cognitive behavior therapy:

This therapy is also called stress management. It may be used with other therapies to prevent headaches.

Self care:

  • Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Use a small towel dampened with warm water or a heating pad, or sit in a warm bath. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Alternate heat and ice.

  • Keep a headache diary: Record the dates and times that you get headaches, and what you were doing before the headache started. This might help you learn if there is something that triggers your headaches.

  • Relax your muscles: Lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Relax your muscles slowly. Start at your toes and work your way up your body.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a constant headache and are vomiting.

  • You have a headache each day that does not get better, even after treatment.

  • You have changes in your headaches, or new symptoms that occur when you have a headache.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have severe pain.

  • You have a headache that occurs after a blow to the head, a fall, or other trauma.

  • You have a headache and are forgetful or confused.

  • You have numbness on one side of your face or body.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Acute Headache (Discharge Care)

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