Acute Headaches Treatment

What is an Acute Headache?

Acute headaches are defined as headaches that start instantly (within seconds) and quickly worsens, sometimes brought on by stress or foods.

Some acute headaches occur daily, and some occur several times daily.

Acute Headache Treatment Options

Treatment options may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (stress management)
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Heat or ice pack
  • Keep record of headaches (severity, duration, number)
  • Limit alcohol
  • Medications
  • Relaxation
  • Stop smoking

Acute Headache Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Nausea
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sudden severe pain

Diagnosis / Tests

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood Chemistry and Urinalysis
  • CT Scan
  • EEG (Electroencephalogram)
  • Eye Exam
  • MRI
  • Physician/patient interview
  • Sinus X-Ray
  • Spinal Tap

Types of Acute Headaches

Common forms include:

Causes & Contributing Factors May Include:

  • Fatigue
  • Food additives (e.g. preservatives, sweeteners, alcohol)
  • Head injury
  • Infection
  • Menstruation
  • Neck pain
  • Sinus pain
  • Stress or tension
  • Thyroid issues
  • Tooth pain
  • Tumor


  • Tension headache is the most common type of headache.
  • 1.2 million people visit the ER yearly for acute migraine attacks.

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