Headaches and Migraines


Most headaches are not serious medical issues, and will resolve and go away on their own fairly quickly. However, some headaches can be the result of a serious illness, and some may result from a condition requiring emergency care. Your headache symptoms themselves will actually help your doctor determine the cause and the appropriate treatment for your headache. If you have a headache that is lingering or is making you feel ill, you should seek a medical evaluation.

Headaches are generally classified as Primary or Secondary, with Secondary being the more serious and possibly life-threatening type.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are triggered by some type of an over activity in the pain-sensitive structures of your head and are not caused by an underlying disease. Primary headaches are caused by chemical activity in your brain causing pain, the nerves or blood vessels of your head outside your skull causing pain, the muscles of your head and neck causing pain, or a combination of these factors. Some people may actually have a genetic disposition that makes them more likely to develop primary headaches.

Common primary headaches are:

  • Tension headaches
  • Cluster headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgia (TAC)

Other, less common types of primary headache can also occur, and although these headaches are generally considered primary, each of them could be a symptom of an underlying disease and should be investigated. These headaches will have distinct symptoms, such as an unusual duration, or are triggered by a certain activity.

These other primary headaches include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Cough induced headaches
  • Exercise induced headaches
  • Sex induced headaches

Some primary headaches can be triggered by other factors, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Changes in sleep, lack of sleep
  • Foods
  • Skipping meals
  • Poor posture

Secondary Headaches

A secondary headache is the more serious type and is a symptom of an underlying disease that has activated the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number or combination of conditions can cause secondary headaches. A secondary headache can be a symptom of a serious condition such as stroke, meningitis or encephalitis.

Go to an emergency clinic or call 911 or your local emergency number if you have a sudden, severe headache or a headache accompanied by:

  • Fainting
  • Numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Confusion or trouble understanding speech
  • High fever
  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble walking
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stiff neck

See a doctor if you begin experiencing headaches that:

  • Are more severe than usual
  • Occur more frequently than usual
  • Get worse or don't improve with over-the-counter drugs
  • Prevent you from working, sleeping or participating in normal activities

Medfast Urgent Care Centers offer fast, professional medical treatment for headaches. Our average wait time to see patients is less than an hour, compared to Hospital Emergency Rooms, which can sometimes take longer than three to four hours and are much more expensive. We are professionally staffed with highly-skilled, licensed doctors and nurses, and fully equipped to handle testing and treatment for headaches.