Is it Just a Headache?

by Nurse Rose Melendez | WGTS 91.9 FM

Headaches are one of the most common health problems worldwide – in fact 1 in 20 adults has a headache nearly every day. Sometimes headaches can be minor and resolve within an hour while others develop into debilitating serious headaches called migraines. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares how you can tell the difference.

How can you tell when it’s just a headache vs. a more serious migraine?

Nurse Rose: Headaches are uncomfortable, but migraines often make you feel incapable of doing your normal activities due to the pain.

Some signs of a migraine include:

  • A headache that is moderate or severe intensity, one-sided, feels pulsating, aggravated by physical activity, lasts hours or days
  • Nausea
  • Occurs anywhere between once a year to once a week

Is there any way to prevent headaches?

Nurse Rose: Sometimes, a headache is unavoidable, but there are a few ways to reduce your chances of getting one. Here are some tips:

  • Aim for at least six to eight hours of sleep per night
  • Reduce tension and stress in your life
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do not smoke
  • Drink plenty of water, about eight 8-oz. glasses per day
  • Stretch your neck and upper body a couple times a day, especially if you work at a desk
  • Avoid drinking more than two 8-oz. cups of coffee per day.

When should you see a doctor?

Nurse Rose: See your doctor if your headache does not resolve with over-the-counter painkillers, or if your headache is:

  • New or different, or feels like “the worst of your life”
  • Severe and localized in one eye
  • Accompanied by paralysis, loss of balance numbness or tingling
  • Associated with fever, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting
  • Associated with a seizure, head trauma or loss of consciousness
  • Accompanied by changes in vision, speech or behavior



Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Need a Neurologist?

Call 240-826-5700 or click below to talk with a member of our Neurosciences team.