Although often considered just a headache, migraines can be a severe, painful experience for those who struggle with them. According to migraine.com, over 38 million Americans struggle with migraines, and 2 to 3 million people who experience these severe headaches also experience chronic flare-ups requiring hospitalization.
Migraines have been named one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits in America. In many cases, individuals who go to emergency rooms due to migraines often cite unyielding pain, as well as sensitivity to light and sound, as the basis for their visit. In this article, we will take a look at when you should consider going to the ER for a migraine and what migraine hospitalization treatments entail.
WHEN SHOULD YOU GO TO THE ER FOR A MIGRAINE?
If you’re vacillating between treating a migraine at home or seeking medical treatment, the severity of your symptoms should influence your decision. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms that are either new or extreme, it may be in your best interest to seeking medical care as opposed to over-the-counter medications and other remedies.
To help further put this into context, new or sudden onset of migraines can be indicative of a stroke or other severe health problems. It is also worth noting that new symptoms like extreme fatigue, vision problems, and fever, for example, may be indicative of underlying health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, or HIV. For women, a sudden onset of migraines can be linked to pregnancy. As such, it is a good idea to speak with your general physician or obstetrician.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT WHEN VISITING AN ER FOR MIGRAINES
Generally speaking, emergency room doctors are not neurologists; however, they do follow a treatment protocol that includes making sure patients are not facing serious or life-threatening problems as a result of their migraines and alleviating the pain they’re experiencing. Managing migraine pain can vary from person to person; as such, it is important for patients to communicate their symptom to their emergency room physician who can prescribe a course of treatment that best suits their individual needs.
Some of the more common emergency room treatments for resolving migraine pain include diagnosing underlying conditions that may be contributing to the migraine as well as a CT (computed tomography) scan or spinal tap. These types of test are critical in that they can help physicians detect meningitis or bleeding in the brain that may be contributing to the migraine.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING WITH YOU WHEN GOING TO THE ER?
While emergency room doctors are very adept at diagnosing and treating most health problems, there are things that you, as a patient, can do to streamline your diagnosis and resolve migraine pain faster. There is no denying that the onset of a migraine can be intense; however, if you have the wherewithal to prepare a few items before going to the ER, doing so can help you tremendously.
Some of these items include:
- A list of the medications that you are currently taking
- A letter from your neurologist detailing your diagnosis and medical history
- A list of medications that have triggered allergic reactions in the past
If possible, it is also a good idea to have a friend or family member accompany you to the emergency room as they can serve as an advocate while you receive the care and treatment you need. Also, they can make sure that any questions relative to your treatment are answered and, most importantly, they can provide transportation, which ensures that you don’t endanger yourself or others while traveling to the ER.