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Head or Face Pain: Care Instructions


Common causes of head or face pain are allergies, stress, and injuries. Other causes include tooth problems and sinus infections. Eating certain foods, such as chocolate or cheese, or drinking certain liquids, such as coffee or cola, can cause head pain for some people.

If you have mild head pain, you may not need treatment. It is important to watch your symptoms and talk to your doctor if your pain continues or gets worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine.
  • Take it easy for the next few days or longer if you are not feeling well.
  • Use a warm, moist towel or heating pad set on low to relax tight muscles in your shoulder and neck. Have someone gently massage your neck and shoulders.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have twitching, jerking, or a seizure.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
  • You have jaw pain and pain in your chest, shoulder, neck, or arm.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • You have nausea and vomiting, or you cannot keep food or liquids down.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your head or face pain does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.