Headaches or Head Pain

Head pain without head trauma has a multiple of possible reasons for occurring. The vast majority of head pain is not serious and can usually be controlled with over-the-counter medication such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. For severe headaches, you can take up to 800 mg. of Ibuprofen as well as two Acetaminophen every 6-8 hours. Taking 800 mg. of Ibuprofen can cause gastric upset.

Major causes of headaches are migraines, tension and cluster headaches. However there are other causative factors that would alert one to seek out medical attention as soon as possible such as head trauma, concern of stroke or hemorrhage, increased pressure, headache associated with fever, one must rule out meningitis, aneurysms, sinus and facial pain.


  • Is your headache of extreme and sudden onset, “thunderclap,” the worst headache of your life?
  • Does it wake you out of a deep sleep?
  • Is it a new onset headache and you are over the age of 50?
  • Does the headache worsen on exertion?
  • Is the headache totally different than what you have had in the past?

    If you answer “yes” to any of these, seek out medical attention immediately.

Should you have a headache associated with a head injury, fall or banging your head, you should go the emergency department if any of the following occur:

  • Persistent nausea or vomiting.
  • Severe or increased pain in your head.
  • Unusual drowsiness or difficulty waking up.
  • Bleeding or any clear fluid from the nose or ears.
  • Any unusual behavior such as seizures, dizziness, room spinning, weakness on one side of the body, trouble walking, visual disturbances, loss of bladder control, confusion or agitation.
  • Check pupils, the black spot in the center of the eyes for difference in size.

Try to take nothing stronger than Acetaminophen for pain until you are assessed in the emergency department. Please limit your activity for the next 24 hours and avoid heavy meals.

Basic First Aid Treatment

There has been some relief with your basic vascular headaches by drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee or a soda. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and has been know to relieve pain as the pain receptors on the arteries are sensitive when arteries dilate. So vasoconstrictors do help. After you try that, you might want to try the Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen and if all this fails, then seek out medical attention.