Most headaches go away on their own and are not a sign of something more serious.
How you can ease headaches yourself
Headaches can last between 30 minutes and several hours.
do not drink alcohol
do not skip meals (even if you might not feel like eating anything)
do not sleep more than you usually would – it can make the headache worse
do not strain your eyes for a long time – for example, by looking at a screen
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 now if:
You have a severe headache and:
- your jaw hurts when eating
- blurred or double vision
- your scalp feels sore
- you get other symptoms – for example, your arms or legs feel numb or weak
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Other ways to get help
A GP may be able to treat you.
Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you injured or hit your head badly – for example, from a fall or accident
- a headache came on suddenly and is extremely painful
You have an extremely painful headache and:
- sudden problems speaking or remembering things
- loss of vision
- you're feeling drowsy or confused
- you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have a stiff neck or a rash
- the white part of your eye is red
What can cause headaches
The most common reasons are:
Page last reviewed: 9 February 2021
Next review due: 9 February 2024