You can see a neurologist if you have a headache that doesn’t go away and is accompanied by other symptoms. This is because these types of headaches can be caused by a serious medical condition.
Generally, headaches will go away on their own and don’t make you need to see a doctor. However, you should see a neurologist if your headaches recur frequently, require you to take long-term headache medication, or are accompanied by certain symptoms.
Signs of a Dangerous Headache
If your headache doesn’t go away, it’s a good idea to see a neurologist. Likewise, if the headache is accompanied by certain symptoms.
Here are some signs of dangerous symptoms of headaches that should be watched out for and further examined by a neurologist:
- Headaches that make you lose balance or coordination of body movements
- Headaches that appear suddenly and feel very heavy
- Headache accompanied by other symptoms, such as confusion, loss of consciousness or fainting, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, stiff neck, and/or fever
- Headaches occur more than twice a week
- Headache with difficulty breathing, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat
- Headaches that appear or recur shortly after doing activities such as lifting weights, running, or aerobic exercise
- Headache with seizures
- Headaches in patients over 50 years old
- Headache accompanied by loss of control or weakness in body parts, for example unable to speak fluently, tingling on one side of the body, numbness, difficulty moving or paralysis
- Headaches that don’t go away or even get worse even after taking drugs
- Headaches that occur after a head injury
- Headaches that occur for 24 hours, 7 days in a row
- Severe headache accompanied by redness in one eye and visual disturbances
- Headaches accompanied by drastic weight loss
- Headaches that interfere with daily activities
- Headaches in people with certain diseases, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS
Examination Performed by a Neurologist
During the consultation, the neurologist will trace the history of complaints and other accompanying symptoms. Be sure to note and remember the characteristics of the headache, such as when the headache occurred, its severity, duration, and whether any other symptoms occurred before or at the same time as the headache.
After studying the symptoms and history of the disease you have suffered, the neurologist will perform the following examinations:
- Physical examination
- Nerve examination, such as examining sensory nerves (assessing whether the body is still sensitive to stimuli such as pain or touch stimuli), hearing, vision, nerve reflexes, and the strength of body movements
- Investigations, such as a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan of the head, EEG (electroencephalogram), EMG (electromyography), urine tests, blood tests, or cerebrospinal fluid tests
Although it’s normal, if you feel a headache that is severe or getting worse, and is accompanied by some of the symptoms mentioned above, you should consult with your doctor further. It could be a sign of a serious illness that requires medical attention.