Should I Seek Medical Attention for My Acute Migraines?

Aug 09, 2023
Should I Seek Medical Attention for My Acute Migraines?
So, should you bother seeing a doctor if you only have headaches a few days a month? Probably yes! Our specialist explains the difference between acute and chronic migraines and the benefits of treatment.

Acute migraines may be better described as “episodic” migraines since only the frequency of these painful headaches makes them different from chronic migraines

Justifiably proud of his reputation as Washington state’s “Headache Guy,” Dr. Wade Steeves at Valley Neurology in Spokane Valley, Washington, specializes in accurately diagnosing and treating headaches of all sizes and shapes, including episodic migraines.

Here’s what Dr. Steeves says about why you should consider treatment for acute migraines.

Acute vs. chronic migraine

Medically speaking, “acute” refers to conditions that come on suddenly and tend to be severe.

Thus, an acute migraine is a severe and often debilitating headache that comes on suddenly and may last hours to days. Symptoms typically include severe throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of your head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and perhaps even visual disturbances.

However, a chronic migraine offers up the same symptoms. The only textbook difference between the two types is frequency. People with acute migraines may have 1-2 headache episodes a month. Some experience only 1-2 migraines a year.

On the other hand, without treatment, individuals with chronic migraines may have more headache days than non-headache days every month.

Why you should consider medical care for acute migraines

Admittedly, chronic migraines can have debilitating consequences on your overall well-being, eventually interfering with your daily routine, mood, work performance, social relationships, and quality of life. 

Thus, you may think chronic migraines deserve more attention than acute or episodic migraines.

However, one acute migraine episode can last for days. Today’s treatments can relieve symptoms quickly and help decrease the frequency of migraines. 

If your choice is living with migraine symptoms for several days or taking medication to stop a migraine from progressing, it only makes sense to seek treatment for either type. 

Notably, episodic migraines can evolve into chronic migraines. Dr. Steeves can identify any worsening trends and design treatment strategies to help prevent that from happening.

Additionally, you should always seek medical attention if you’re experiencing your first severe headache. It could be a sign of a serious underlying condition. 

Seek emergency care if your headache is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking.

How are acute migraines treated?

The goal of treating acute migraines is twofold: relieving your current symptoms and preventing future attacks.

When over-the-counter remedies aren’t enough, Dr. Steeves may recommend prescription-strength medication for migraine relief.

Your strategy may include newer medications specifically designed for treating migraines, such as gepants, DHE, or DHE derivatives. When used at the onset of a migraine, these medicines can alleviate headache pain, light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting.

Resting in a dark, quiet room, applying cold compresses to the painful area, and staying well hydrated can enhance the medication strategy for immediate relief.

Depending on the frequency of migraine episodes, Dr. Steeves may also recommend preventive medications and other strategies, such as identifying and avoiding your migraine triggers, anything from skipping meals to sugary snacks.

The bottom line? You don’t have to live with the debilitating effects of migraines. Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Steeves at Valley Neurology today. Call us or request an appointment online.