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


What is the Most Common Type of Acute Headache?

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. Approximately 1.2 million people visit the ER every year for acute migraine headaches. However, it is equally important to note that acute headaches should not be ignored. If you or someone you know experiences an acute headache, it is important to find out the underlying cause. This is especially true in people who usually do not suffer from headaches.

Can Being Dehydrated Make an Acute Headache Worse?

Yes, being dehydrated can make an acute headache worse. If you are experiencing an acute headache, it is important to remain hydrated. Sometimes, proper rehydration can help to alleviate the pain.

Can Stress Management Help With an Acute Headache?

If the headache is caused by stress, then learning new ways to manage stress can be beneficial. The first step is to determine the cause of your headache. Afterward, you can manage or even possibly eliminate your symptoms by yoga, meditation, and regular exercise. These tips are in addition to the treatment plan your treating physician recommends.

What Is the Difference Between a Migraine and Other Types of Acute Headaches?

Migraines can present in different ways; however, some of the most common ones include a painful pulsation on one side of the head, light sensitivity, and possibly visual disturbances. Other headaches may not present with the same symptomatology. Be sure to keep a log of your symptoms and how frequently you have them so that you can discuss them with your treating physician.

How Can I Prevent Acute Headaches?

Identifying the underlying triggers may help to prevent acute headaches. For example, finding ways to manage stress can help prevent future headaches if you are currently under a lot of stress. Lifestyle modification can be helpful if you are not sleeping well and not living as healthy as you used to.

If you are experiencing acute headaches, we can help. Contact The Pain Experts of Arizona to schedule an appointment today.


  • 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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