Imaging Tests for Headaches: When you need them and when you don’t

To find out if a headache is caused by a serious problem, many people sit through a CT Scan or an MRI. Let’s us discuss in which situations you need an imaging scan.

Headache is a common woe suffered by many people. To find out if your headache is caused by a serious problem, such as a brain tumor, many people sit through a CT Scan or an MRI. Let’s us discuss in which situations you need an imaging scan: 

When should you take an imaging test for headaches? 

In cases where your health care provider is not able to diagnose your headache based on your medical history and neurological exam, an MRI or CT is ordered by the doctor. You may also need an exam if the other test shows something that is not normal. 

  • These are some scenarios of unusual headaches when you must see your health care provider immediately to consult if you need an MRI or CT Scan: 
  • Sudden and severe headache that feels like something is bursting in your head. 
  • Your headache is different from your usual headaches that you generally have, more so if you’re age 50 or older. 
  • Your headaches are accompanied by other severe symptoms such as a seizure or fit, an alteration in speech or alertness, loss of control. 
  • Your headaches happen mostly when you’ve been physically active. 

How to treat a headache 

Unless a severe ailment is diagnosed in your imaging scan, follow these simple steps that help with most headaches: 

Avoid TriggersTriggers are events that lead to headaches. Here are a few tips in which you can help avoid triggers. 

If you have migraines: 

  • Do not skip meals 
  • Wear tinted pair of shades in bright light
  • Say no to alcohol, aged cheese (dry, hard cheeses such as parmesan), meat with added nitrates. 
In case of tension headaches: 
  • Avoid getting over tired 
  • Keep your jaw relaxed 
  • Keep your neck and back straight when you sit or stand 
Quit Smoking 
  • Smoking can lead to either headaches 
Manage your Stress 
  • Practice yoga, stretching, meditation, or other activities that help you relax. 
Get Adequate Sleep 
  • Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You can set a regular time to go to bed and to wake up. Keep yourself from watching TV or computer before you go to bed. 
Exercise Regularly  
  • Regular exercise, brisk walking, such as swimming, or cycling, can cut down stress and ease headaches. 
Non-prescription pain medication or treatment from a pain-relief doctor: 
  • Botox for migraine pain is also a common solution to migraine these days. 

If your headache is persistent, there are other therapies that your pain doctor can give to lower the pain level or bring down the episodes considerably.