When Your Migraine Warrants a Trip to the ER

A migraine can bring a grown adult to their knees with blinding pain that seems endless. When does a migraine warrant a trip to the ER? Even if you’re not having a stroke, intense pain can be debilitating and should be treated.

At our Trusted ER locations in Dallas, Sherman, Hurst, and Coppell, Texas, our medical staff is trained to help migraine patients, not dismiss their pain. We’ll work with you on pain management and try to find the cause of your migraines.

The difference between a headache and a migraine 

Contrary to popular belief, migraines are not the same thing as headaches. In fact, migraines can feel very different and come with a number of unique symptoms. Before you get treatment for any head pain, it's important to determine whether you're suffering from a headache or a migraine. 

Whereas headaches are usually caused by tension or sinus pressure, migraines are often caused by outside factors and influenced by genetic predisposition. Unlike headaches, migraines are usually accompanied by: 

Potential migraine complications  

Migraines can have odd symptoms, and are occasionally preceded by "auras", which are symptoms that warn you of the impending migraine. Loss of focus, tingling face and hands, unusual changes to senses, and seeing lights are common aura symptoms. 

A persistent aura with no migraine is also classified as a migraine complication. You may develop other complications from migraines. A few examples of these include: 

Abdominal pain & organ damage 

Many people try to medicate migraines with over-the-counter pain relievers, including excessive amounts of NSAIDs. Taking too many of these drugs can cause organ damage and abdominal pain. 


This is a rare condition where migraines can trigger seizures. Epileptic seizures usually occur within an hour after the migraine and can be extremely dangerous.


Experts aren’t sure why, but having migraines puts you at a higher risk of having a stroke, especially if you’re a woman. Taking birth control pills ups your risk even more.

When to go to the ER 

Many people go to the ER for migraines, especially when they become severe or last more than a few days. Long-term, debilitating pain can lead people to seek help anywhere, even if it requires going to the emergency room. 

You should visit the ER if you experience new, unusual, or seriously concerning symptoms. These might include slurred speech, weakness, fever, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Sudden, overwhelming migraines should also be met with immediate medical care. 

If you find yourself seeking emergency care, make sure to tell the doctors about any unusual symptoms, medications you're taking, and any migraine treatments that have worked for you in the past. You might be tested for stroke or other conditions. 

Having severe migraine pain? Come to one of our Trusted ER centers, and our team can evaluate you and help you manage your pain while we look for the root cause of your migraines. You can also call us with any questions. 

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