The Ideal Neurology Clinic Blog

If you're reading this, you probably think most people have headaches, right? Why should you go see a neurologist if it's just a fact of life? Stress, red wine, weather changes, they all are known to cause headaches, am I right?

Actually, it may surprise you to learn that some people have never had a headache in their life! Or if they do, they don't need to lie down in a dark and quiet room for hours before it goes away.

So at what point do headaches become a medical problem? In this post, Boca Raton Neurologist Dr. Renata Chalfin discusses the symptoms and warning signs that you may need some help if you have headaches.

Signs you would benefit from the help of a medical doctor, especially a neurologist

If you've had headaches most of your life, you may have learned to deal with them somewhat, but you don't have to suffer forever. There are many treatments, both natural and conventional, that have been shown to be very effective in treating headaches.

If you have headaches that are severe enough for you to miss work, school, household duties, or personal events, you should see a doctor. Same goes if you have a headache more than once per week, especially if you're taking medications for pain more than a couple times a month (Excedrin, Tylenol - all of these count!). Don't freak out yet! This doesn't mean that you have a serious condition. Your doctor will take your history and examine you. If everything is normal, you may just have a primary headache disorder such as Episodic Migraine or Tension Headache. Treating these with the advice of a neurologist is your best chance of getting rid of them altogether or at least keeping them at bay and preventing them from turning into something chronic.

If your headaches last more than 4 hours (adults) or 2 hours (children); are accompanied by sensitivity to lights, noise, or smells; or nausea and/or vomiting, you should see a doctor. Some of these may be signs of Migraine. Best to get checked out and receive some medical advice.

But what if your headaches are even more than that? The rest of this post lists red flags - for seeking immediate medical attention - and other signs of a serious medical condition. If you have a question, give me a call! I'd be happy to talk you through things.

Dangerous Signs - Go to the ER!

  • Sudden, severe headache that peaks within 1 minute or less ("thunderclap headache"); or

Headache accompanied by:

  • head trauma/injury, drug use, toxin exposure, or possible carbon monoxide exposure

  • neck rigidity and/or fever

  • confusion, hallucination, or behavior changes

  • vision loss, even if it's transient, or double vision

  • numbness

  • weakness of an arm, leg, or both on one side of the body

  • inability to speak or understand speech

  • dizziness/sensation of room spinning, slurred speech

  • seizure (obviously, I hope)

Serious signs you should seek the advice of a medical doctor soon

  • New headaches in a person over age 50 that never suffered from headaches;

  • Headaches that have changed, become worse or more frequent than they used to be;

  • Headaches that occur primarily in the morning;

  • Headaches that awaken you from sleep;

  • Headaches that worsen with coughing, straining, or sneezing;

  • Headaches that change with position, e.g., are triggered by lying down/bending over or standing up;

  • Blurring or loss of vision that occurs when you bend your head forward;

  • Systemic conditions (pregnancy, immunocompromised state, cancer, or just fevers/chills, night sweats, weight loss);

Headaches accompanied by:

  • blurring of the vision, vision loss, or seeing halos around lights;

  • ringing or whooshing sound in the ears;

  • losing your peripheral vision;

  • loss of coordination or balance;

  • nausea or vomiting; or

  • sweating, racing of the heart, and high blood pressure.

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, please call 561-961-8575 to make an appointment with Dr. Renata Chalfin. We frequently have same or next day appointments!

Nerve pain. Even if you don't think you do, you know it. It's the pain you get if you sit too long on something hard and your leg falls asleep. It's the pain you get if you hit your funny bone and feel pain shoot down into your pinky finger.

Once in awhile, sure, easy to deal with. But some people deal with this kind of pain daily, in their toes, legs, fingertips. It can prevent them from getting sleep. From doing activities they love. From wearing the shoes they like.

Aside from the pain, these damaged nerves can also decrease sensitivity to touch, pain, temperature, or "proprioception" (our perception of where our bodies and limbs are in space). People can get cuts they don't notice that turn into infected wounds. Or they can get burns from hot water they didn't realize was so hot. Or they can start bumping into things or falling as their brains try hard to balance without knowing exactly where the feet are!

If the motor nerves are involved, people can develop weakness - foot drops or wrist drops. They can start tripping over their feet, or they may have difficulty buttoning their clothes, cutting their food, or gripping things.

If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, you may have a neuropathy, which is a disease of the peripheral nerves. Neuropathy is a condition that may be caused by many different things. It is often progressive. Diabetes, or prediabetes, is one of the most common causes. But it can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, genetic conditions, undiagnosed cancers, by excessive alcohol use, or by certain medications. Diagnosis of neuropathy is usually simple for your doctor and involves a neurologic examination. You may also need a nerve conduction study, which is a procedure where the doctor will measure how quickly your nerves conduct electric impulses. Some simple blood tests can sometimes find the cause. Usually, once you treat the underlying condition, the neuropathy itself may improve or at least stop progressing. Though studies have not yet found a magic pill to take away neuropathy, there are many treatments - natural/alternative as well as traditional medicines - that can bring people relief. This alongside behavioral interventions and physical therapy to prevent falls, wounds, etc.

Go see your doctor today if you think you may have a neuropathy. Boca Raton neurologist Dr. Renata Chalfin helps people with peripheral neuropathy almost every day, and she can help you, too. Call 561-961-8575 to make an appointment, or book online at

I look forward to meeting you!


Phone 561-961-8575

Fax 561-898-1710

Office Location

Office Hours

Mon - Wed


Fri - Sun

10am - 4:30pm

10am - 12pm


  • White Google Places Icon
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • Ideal Neurology Clinic on Yelp