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How Do I Know If My Headache Is A Migraine

I Know What It Is Now What

How Do I Know If My Headache Is a Migraine?

Once you understand the checklist youll have a much better idea of which category you fall into. Of course, youll want to confirm this with your doctor for an official diagnosis. If you think that you are one of the majority and that your sinus headaches are actually migraine then its time to see a headache specialist. The good news is that with good treatment and support from a specialist you can significantly improve your condition.

Many people with headaches and sinus complaints self-treat with over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen/paracetamol. In most cases, migraine-specific medication and personalized strategies are far more effective.

A range of treatment options are available depending on the severity and frequency of your headaches.

One of the most effective types of medicinal migraine treatments are called the triptans. Ninety-two percent of people from the SAMS study were candidates for triptans, but only 12% were using them.

Triptans require a doctors prescription and can be very useful if headaches are not very frequent. For more severe and frequently recurring cases there are preventative treatment options which help prevent attacks before they occur. There are medicinal and non medicinal preventives which you should explore with your doctor.

A word of caution: migraine overall is poorly managed.

Many people still havent been diagnosed. Fewer receive quality treatment.

IF YOU HAVE MIGRAINE DO THIS NEXT BEFORE THINGS GET WORSE

Your Headache Has Lasted Over 72 Hours

The same study found that headaches that persist for at least 72 hours are more likely to be the result of COVID than those that resolve sooner: Over 10 percent of COVID-positive respondents reported this minimum duration, compared with four percent of patients whose headaches were not related to COVID.

Those with coronavirus may also experience shorter tension headaches throughout their sickness, but these are typically associated with the physical strain of severe coughing. And for another symptom to be aware of, check out This Strange Pain Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

What Are Rebound Migraines

Women who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days out of the month can set off a cycle called rebound. As each dose of medicine wears off, the pain comes back, leading the patient to take even more. This overuse causes your medicine to stop helping your pain and actually start causing headaches. Rebound headaches can occur with both over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief medicines. They can also occur whether you take them for headache or for another type of pain. Talk to your doctor if you’re caught in a rebound cycle.

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Smoking Can Lead To Headache Or Migraine

Nicotine changes the blood vessels in the brain, and cigarette smoke can irritate the nerves in the nose and throat both of which can lead to migraine attacks or headaches.

Some people complain of headaches while they’re trying to kick the habit, but nicotine gum usually helps,” says Ricardo Jorge Komotar, MD, a professor of clinical neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the director of surgical neuro-oncology at the University of Miami Hospital.

The health benefits of quitting smoking still clearly outweigh this possible discomfort.

How To Tell If Your Headache Is Actually A Migraine

We all get headaches, but do you know what kind you get ...

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All migraines are headaches, but not all headaches are migraines. Fortunately, migraine and headache symptoms differ. If you can identify the symptoms associated with migraines and headaches, you can determine if your headache might be a migraine.

Now, lets look at 10 common migraine symptoms, along with some of the ways to treat migraines and headaches.

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When Its Actually A Migraine

If you have a migraine, you may experience:

  • An aura, or light haze, in the minutes before migraine pain appears
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain on one side of your head
  • Light, touch, smell or sound sensitivity
  • Nausea

Occasional migraines can be brought on by:

  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Lack of food or hydration
  • Changes in the weather

In the case of a one-time migraine, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief.

Can Migraines Cause Teeth And Jaw Pain

There are many reasons why you may experience tooth pain, jaw pain, headaches, or facial pain with a migraine. Whatever the cause, we dont want you to live with it for long. If it is an oral problem, you should first speak with your dentist. If you are experiencing pain, your dentist can either treat it or refer you to a medical professional.

Read Also: Tylenol And Migraines

Also Check: Sumatriptan And Pregnancy

So What Exactly Are Migraines And Why Do People Get Them

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a migraine is a brain disease that causes various uncomfortable symptoms that can last anywhere from four hours up to three days.

While the exact cause of migraine headaches is unknown, the Migraine Research Foundation says that both genes and environmental factors likely play a role. We also know that the symptoms are brought on by a change in chemical activity that impacts both the central and peripheral nervous systems, explains Jessica Ailani, M.D., director of the MedStar Georgetown Headache Center in Washington D.C.

What Can I Do To Prevent Migraines

Migraine : What you need to know

One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to try to avoid the things that might trigger your attacks. Most people benefit from trying to get stable sleep, eating regular meals, drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, and trying to manage stress. Taking regular exercise may also help prevent migraines since it helps with breathing, improving blood sugar balance and maintaining general wellbeing. Although you should take care not to engage in very strenuous activity that your body is not used to as this can sometimes act as a migraine trigger.

Keeping a diary of your migraines can be a useful way to record when and where you experience attacks, check for any patterns, and try to identify your triggers. Take the diary when you see your GP so you can communicate your symptoms with them and they can find the best way to help you.

Also Check: Migraine Cures When Pregnant

Managing Migraines At Home

A migraine is a common type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Most people feel a throbbing pain on only one side of their head during a migraine.

Some people who get migraines have warning signs, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms that includes vision changes. An aura is a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.

Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:

  • Any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, as well as foods that contain monosodium glutamate
  • Baked goods, chocolate, nuts, and dairy products
  • Fruits
  • Meats containing sodium nitrates, such as bacon, hot dogs, salami, and cured meats
  • Red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken liver, figs, and certain beans

Alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, skipping meals, lack of sleep, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, exercise, and cigarette smoking may also trigger a migraine.

I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle

More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.

How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.

Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.

Recommended Reading: How Long Do Migraines Last For

How To Tell If You Have A Headache Sinus Pain Or A Migraine

Headaches in any form can be disruptive to our lives, but not all of them are the same.

According to experts, most people dont know the difference between various types of headaches, like sinus headaches and migraines. That can make a painful situation so much worse.

Knowing which issue youre dealing with is vital to treating it. So HuffPost reached out to the experts to help walk you through the differences, dispel some myths and help you learn more about what you may be experiencing. Here are the different types and what you can do about each of them:

How Are Migraines Treated

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Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.

  • Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
  • Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.

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It Comes On Suddenly And Severely

A brain aneurysm occurs when weak blood vessels in the brain start expanding or ballooning out. Usually they dont cause symptoms, although if they get very big, they can cause headaches. But a ruptured aneurysm, which occurs when the ballooned vessel pops and leaks blood around the brain, can cause a massive, sudden headache.

The classic presentation is the worst headache of your life, says Jonathan J. Russin, MD, assistant professor of clinical neurological surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a neurosurgeon at Keck Medicine of USC. They call it a thunder clap headache.

It may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, weakness or drowsiness. If you experience a major headache like this, call 911 immediately.

Common Migraine Symptoms You Should Definitely Know About

1. Debilitating throbbing

Patients will tell me, ‘I can feel my heartbeat in my head,’ or talk about touching their temple and feeling the vein throbbing, or feeling like their head will explode, Ailani says. A run-of-the-mill headache, however, causes a dull, aching pain that’s more of an annoyance versus something that throws a wrench in your daily life.

2. Pain on only one side of your head

While migraines can be experienced on both sides of the head, the pain is typically only on one side. A tension headache, however, typically presents as pain all over, and a sinus headache presents as pressure around the cheeks, eyes, and forehead.

It’s still unclear why migraines may present as one-sided. One theory has to do with the trigeminal nerves. However, only one may be activated when a migraine begins, and as this continues to happen with repeated migraines over time, that one nerve becomes the quickest, easiest path for the brain, Ailani explains.

3. Seeing sparking lights or flashes

When a migraine happens, there’s a slow wave of electrical activity from the back to the front of the brain, explains Adelene Jann, M.D., a neurologist at NYU Langone Health. When that happens, there’s also decreased blood flow to the brain, and everything slows down. In turn, about 25 percent of suffers experience an aura either before or during their migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

4. Weakness and tingling

5. Next level nausea

6. A heightened sense of smell

Also Check: How To Fake A Migraine To A Doctor

Common Sinus Headache Symptoms

  • Fever: You won’t always run a temperature when you have a headache caused by sinusitis, but it’s a distinct possibility, especially if the infection is caused by a bacteria rather than a virus. In that case, an antibiotic actually may be in order to knock out the bacteria.
  • Purulent nasal discharge: A thick, yellowish or greenish discharge is a sign of infection.
  • Ear or upper tooth pain: Ear and upper tooth pain are common complaints in those suffering from a sinus infection.

Pacing From The Pain Or Laying Down

MIGRAINES: My experience & how I deal with them 🙁

“Cluster headache patients tend to move around quite a bit during the headache. Migraine patients, moving around makes it much worse, so they try to stay still usually,” said Dr. Burish.

During a cluster headache attack, I prefer to rock back and forth and tend to moan or scream when the pain is peaking. That is uniform across the cluster headache patients I’ve met over the years. Laying down is like torture during an attack because the searing pain makes you move. Bob Wold, Founder of Clusterbusters, likened it to slamming your finger in a car door: You have to shake your hand to cope with the pain. It’s similar with cluster headaches.

Migraine attacks typically have you in a dark, quiet room because sound and light make it worse. I’ve had status migraines in the past, and they drained me for five days and had me wanting to stay in bed.

Read Also: Can Migraines Cause Fever And Chills

What Are Sinus Headaches

Real sinus headaches are almost always from a sinus infection. Sinus infections are common with 10% to 30% of the population experiencing at least one sinus infection each year.

Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. This occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed. Common symptoms include thick nasal mucous, blocked nose and facial pain. Sinus infections may be caused by an infection, allergy or air pollution. Most cases are due to viral infection. Infections are often transmitted through coughing, sneezing, kissing, contact with contaminated surfaces, food or water or contact with infected animals or pets.

To understand how sinus headaches are confused with migraine its important to know what migraine is.

Migraine And Cluster Headache Are Often Confused

The best way to figure out which type of head pain a patient experiences is… Listen. To. The. Patient. Anna Williams shares her story of living with migraine disease and cluster headaches and how it was challenging to get someone to understand she has two separate disorders.

Cluster headaches are often lumped in with migraines, and migraines can sometimes be confused with cluster headaches. .

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What Is A Migraine Attack

Migraine is a common primary headache disorder . In essence they are the result of a neurological malfunction that is thought to originate in the brain stem. Medical scientists and researchers still arent exactly sure what causes a migraine attack.

Leading theories relate to hyperexcitability within certain areas of the brain or a disorder from the brain stem which triggers the migraine attack.

The brain stem is a small but extremely important part of the brain. It allows the nerve connections of the motor and sensory system to pass from the brain to the body. This controls bodily sensations and movement.

At the start of an attack, chemical changes are thought to develop in the brainstem which triggers a series of reactions causing the brain to respond abnormally to otherwise normal signals. The result from this hypersensitive response could be migraine.

Interestingly, at least 50% of people who experience migraine still have not been diagnosed.

When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider

Headache or Migraine
  • You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
  • You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
  • Your headache comes on suddenly.
  • You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.

Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:

  • The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
  • Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.

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What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline

The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.

The phases are:

  • Prodrome: The first stage lasts a few hours, or it can last days. You may or may not experience it as it may not happen every time. Some know it as the preheadache or premonitory phase.
  • Aura: The aura phase can last as long as 60 minutes or as little as five. Most people dont experience an aura, and some have both the aura and the headache at the same time.
  • Headache: About four hours to 72 hours is how long the headache lasts. The word ache doesnt do the pain justice because sometimes its mild, but usually, its described as drilling, throbbing or you may feel the sensation of an icepick in your head. Typically it starts on one side of your head and then spreads to the other side.
  • Postdrome: The postdrome stage goes on for a day or two. Its often called a migraine hangover and 80% of those who have migraines experience it.
  • It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.

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