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Headaches During Pregnancy: When to Worry

Headaches are relatively common in pregnancy, but sometimes they could mean something more serious. Find out how to tell when you need to consult a doctor.

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-Headaches and pregnancy are relatively common and patients who've never had bad headaches before might find themselves suffering. The most common time that we see patients with headaches is probably the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second trimester. And that's typically from hormonal changes that occur at that time. Probably the best things to do are to make sure you're not dehydrated 'cause that can definitely make headaches worse, to make sure you're eating properly and you're not hypoglycemic. And then after that, we can always have patients take Tylenol, Extra Strength Tylenol, and sometimes a cup of coffee; and lying down in a dark room can make it better. Headaches that are persistent if Tylenol and those other remedies aren't helping, headaches for which someone will say it's the worst headache I've had in my life, those are things that require medical attention. So, we need to make sure there's nothing neurologic going on that's causing those headaches. Later in pregnancy in the second and third trimester, if you have a headache that's not going away with these usual measures, then it may be because your blood pressure is elevated. If your blood pressure is elevated in pregnancy, then we need to rule out another condition called preeclampsia of pregnancy. Any headache that's associated with swelling, that's associated with blurry vision, that's associated with upper abdominal pain, headaches that aren't going away that are associated with any of those symptoms, you need to call your doctor for them.