Assessment of acute headache in adults - what the general physician needs to know

Krishna Chinthapalli, Anne-Marie Logan, Rohit Raj, Niranjanan Nirmalananthan
Clinical Medicine: Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 2018, 18 (5): 422-427
Headache is common. Up to 5% of attendances to emergency departments and acute medical units are due to headache. Headache is classified as either primary (eg migraine, cluster headache) or secondary to another cause (eg meningitis, subarachnoid haemorrhage). Even in the acute setting the majority of cases are due to primary causes. The role of the attending physician is to take a comprehensive history to diagnose and treat benign headache syndromes while ruling out sinister aetiologies. This brief article summarises the approach to assessment of headache presenting in acute and emergency care.

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