Do recurring headaches stop you in your tracks? If so, you are not alone. According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), more than 45 million Americans suffer chronic, recurring headaches. More than half suffer from migraines. Most migraine sufferers have their first headache between the ages of 6 and 25, and about 70 percent are women.
Headaches affect the workplace. The NHF reports headaches are responsible for absenteeism, lost productivity and medical expenses that cost U.S. employers nearly $17 billion per year. Migraine sufferers alone lose more than 150 million workdays annually.
When to Call Your Doctor
Although few headaches are signs of serious underlying medical conditions, call your doctor if any of the following apply:
- You have three or more headaches per week.
- You take a pain reliever almost every day.
- You need more than recommended doses of over-the-counter medications.
- You have a stiff neck and fever in addition to a headache.
- Your headache is accompanied by shortness of breath, fever and unexpected symptoms that affect your eyes, ears, nose or throat.
- You are dizzy, unsteady or have slurred speech, weakness or changes in sensation (numbness or tingling) in addition to your headache.
- You experience confusion or drowsiness with your headache.
- Your headaches began and persisted after a head injury.
- Exertion, coughing, bending or sexual activity trigger your headache.
- Your headache keeps getting worse and won’t go away.
- Your headaches have changed in character.
- Persistent or severe vomiting accompanies headache.
- Your headaches began after age 50.
Tips for Taking Control of Your Headaches
- Recognize that you have a condition that can be successfully treated.
- Make an appointment to see a health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.
- Become informed about your headache type and treatment options.
- Partner with your health care provider regarding your care.
- Adopt healthy lifestyle habits and improve your quality of life.