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When Should I See a Doctor About My Headaches?

It’s important to remember that while an occasional headache is common, it’s not normal to have a headache every day. Your City Care provider can help identify the true cause of your discomfort and design a treatment strategy that relieves your pain and limits your headache frequency.

We typically recommend you see us if you’re taking OTC medication for headaches more than once or twice a week, if the pain is interfering with your daily activities, or you notice an increase in the frequency or severity of your headaches.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe pain, lose vision or consciousness, develop a high fever, experience uncontrollable vomiting, or become confused or disoriented.

Common headache types

Three of the most common types of headaches are:

Tension headaches

By far the most common type, tension headaches typically cause a constant, dull ache that feels like a tight band wrapped around your head. The pain often worsens throughout the day, may last for hours to days, and can include discomfort and muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headache patients experience severe headache attacks that may range from one headache every other day to several headaches per day. There are two types of cluster headaches:

Episodic cluster headaches happen in bursts lasting days to weeks.  Sufferers are symptom-free between bursts.   

Chronic cluster headaches occur similarly but the bursts last longer than a year. 


A migraine headache usually causes a throbbing or pulsing pain that’s felt on one side of the head. Other symptoms that accompany a migraine may include:

Migraines can last for several hours to several days and are often quite debilitating.

Start with identifying your headache type

Because we treat headaches based on their underlying cause, it’s important to identify what kind of headache you’re experiencing before reaching for a medication to ease your pain.

A sinus headache, for instance, may respond to a decongestant to relieve the sinus pressure causing your discomfort. But decongestants have no effect on migraine headaches, which are often misdiagnosed as sinus headaches.

If OTC medications aren’t relieving your pain, you could be using the wrong type of medicine. Also, headaches may be a result of eye strain, dehydration, and numerous other issues that aren’t responsive to medication.    

Headaches are so common that most medical professionals agree everyone should expect to experience one occasionally. Fortunately, many over-the-counter headache remedies do exactly what they promise – significantly reduce and even eliminate occasional headache pain. But sometimes they don’t. What should you do then?  

The family medicine specialists at City Care Family Practice have earned a reputation for providing high quality medical care to folks of all ages in and around their Lower Midtown community on the east side of Manhattan, New York.

These talented experts know that headaches come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are happy to share information about headaches and when it’s time to see the doctor.

For help with chronic headaches, schedule a visit at City Care Family Practice today.

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