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How To Know If You Have A Migraine Headache

Whats The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

Headache Treatments : How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

A tension-type headache, the most common type of headache, causes pain on both sides of the head. Its a tight pressure rather than a throbbing, and you might also have soreness in your temples, neck and shoulder muscles. Headache pain isnt usually considered severe.

Migraine, on the other hand, has many symptoms including headache. This can feel like a throbbing pain that might be worse on one side of your head. You can also feel pain around your eyes, temples, face, jaw or neck. The pain may increase with physical activity, which is why it helps to lie down.

But the key difference between a headache and migraine? Migraines can be distressing and debilitating and can affect your whole body. People can feel vaguely unwell for a day or two before a migraine headache comes on . Once it has started, a migraine headache can last for between 4 hours and several days.

Migraine is a chronic disorder of the brain with recurrent severe attacks other common features are nausea or even vomiting, explains Assistant Professor of Neurology Yulia Orlova on The Conversation. Many people have sensitivity to light, odours or sounds and are unable to carry on daily activity.

Migraine is ranked the sixth most disabling disease in the world. Global Burden of Disease

The Difference Between A Migraine Attack And A Stroke

Strokes are typically one-time events and symptoms. Migraine attacks can occur more often, even daily, and symptoms are not permanent. In addition to the rapid onset of stroke symptoms, face droop is a tell-tale sign that you may be having a stroke and not a Migraine attack.

Most importantly, know your risk of stroke and talk to your doctor so no confusion is present if a stroke does occur.

The Effects Of A Single Migraine Can Last For Days

As if experiencing a migraine weren’t bad enough, the recovery stage can last for days after the initial pain subsides. Brandes describes this stage of migraine as feelings of exhaustion or fatigue, almost like youâre getting over the flu. âSome people refer to like theyâve been hit by a truck ⦠sometimes people will be sore, sometimes they just canât get comfortable,â she says. âThat postdrome for some patients is just as miserable as the headache phase.â

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Migraines Can Have An Economic Impact On The Country

âThere are several reasons that migraine results in economic burden,â Aymen tells Bustle. People will often either miss work or decide to try to push through the pain, which causes them to be less efficient at their jobs. âPeople with migraine often struggle to find an effective treatment regimen, which results in frequent urgent care or emergency department visits,â Aymen says.

Stroke Or Migraine How To Recognize The Differences In Symptoms

How To Tell If You Have A Headache Or A Migraine

While its always advisable to seek emergency medical treatment by calling 911 for any signs of stroke, even if youre not sure, there are subtle differences in symptoms that may give you a clue as to whether its a stroke or migraine.

Here are some questions to ask that may help you identify:

  • Abrupt or gradual? A stroke typically comes on suddenly, without warning. Symptoms are immediately at peak intensity. A migraine aura usually occurs gradually, with symptoms evolving over several minutes and any accompanying headache building to a peak over time.
  • Increased or decreased vision changes? With migraine you see it, with stroke you dont. Someone having a migraine with aura will experience added visual stimuli, such as flashing lights or zigzagging lines. A stroke, on the other hand, typically diminishes vision bumping into something may be the first clue that vision has been impaired.
  • Past history of migraine? Although its possible to have a first migraine at any age, its more typical to begin having them as a child. Most migraine sufferers will also recognize their aura, as it tends to be the same every time. If you have never had a migraine or your migraine symptoms differ from their normal course, get to the closest ER or urgent care center. With stroke, its also possible to have one at any age or in any physical shape, so dont ever rule it out. Call 911 immediately, because its better to be safe than sorry.

Revised 4/27/2021

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So Lets Address The Main Question On Everyones Mind When Theyre In The Midst Of A Migrainewhy

It turns out, we dont always know for sure. There are lots of possible causes, but not one sole cause that applies to everyone. This is one area where family history can help provide clues, as migraines often run in families and the triggers within a family can be similar.

Some common triggers include:
  • Stress
  • Food or drink
  • Bright lights, strong scents, and loud or persistent noises
  • Lack of sleep or jet lag
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Medications

When To Call A Doctor About Your Migraines

If you’re not getting satisfactory relief from over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes, or if you’re taking over-the-counter medications more than 10 to 15 times per month, talk to your primary care physician about your headaches.

“The evaluation of headaches usually starts with the primary care doctor, who assesses whether a patient has a common headache or something more serious,” says Santiago Mazuera Mejia, MD, a neurologist at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “Primary care doctors often continue to see people with infrequent migraines. However, if at some point, there is a need for more complex treatments, patients usually go to neurologists and headache specialists who have additional training in preventive and acute treatments as well as nonmedical treatments.”

It’s important to get evaluated by a doctor because taking over-the-counter medications too frequently can sometimes lead to serious side effects or actually make you get headaches more often.

It’s helpful to keep a diary if you experience migraines because you may discover your triggers, which can inform which type of treatment is best for you. Write down what time your migraines occur, how long they last, how you slept the night before, what you ate/drank that day and when, how you felt emotionally that day, etc. Then bring that information to your doctor.

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Getting The Right Diagnosis

TTH is diagnosed if the patient has experienced at least 10 attacks, each lasting somewhere between 30 minutes and 7 days. Each headache attack is accompanied by pain that fits at least two of the following characteristics:

  • Does not pulsate or throb
  • Located on both sides of the head
  • Mild-to-moderate intensity
  • Is not aggravated by routine physical activity

If symptoms like nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity are present in addition to the headache, doctors will generally consider Migraine as a more plausible diagnosis over TTH.

Migraine is diagnosed if a patient has experienced five or more attacks, with the following characteristics:

  • Attack lasts 4-72 hours
  • Aggravated by routine physical activity
  • During the attack, at least one of the following symptoms is present:
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • An experienced doctor or headache specialist can help differentiate amongst the various types of headaches, including TTH and Migraine.

    Although there are no specific tests for Migraine, your doctor may recommend a scan or blood test to rule out other conditions that may be triggering your headaches.

    Migraine is a genetic disorder that you’re born with. Your doctor may ask for details about your health history and the health history of your family members.

    What Is Sinus Headache

    Migraine : What you need to know

    A true sinus headache, called rhinosinusitis, is rare. The cause is a viral or bacterial sinus infection characterized by thick, discolored nasal discharge. Youll get symptoms like possibly weaker smell or no smell, facial pain or pressure and commonly, fever. Facial pain and headache should resolve within seven days after viral symptoms improve or after successful treatment with antibiotics . If pain continues, then your diagnosis should be reconsidered.

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    Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided

    Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.

    Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.

    There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.

    What Causes A Migraine

    The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.

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    Meditation And Exercise May Help Prevent Migraine

    When it comes to dealing with triggers, stress has a major impact on many migraineurs. So, certain lifestyle changes can certainly help. âOne of the roles that exercise can play is in terms of helping with stress management,â Brandes tells Bustle. âExercise might be doing yoga on a regular basis, regular aerobic activity, and also things like meditation, meditation yoga, mindfulness, those kinds of things can certainly be helpful for managing stress,â she explains.

    Migraine Disability Is More Common Than You Think

    Knowing the Type of Headache You Have

    Because many people experience this condition in silence, you might not know just how widespread migraine is. According to the American Migraine Foundation, itâs the sixth most debilitating illness in the world. In fact, migraine is more prevalent than other common disorders like diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma, but itâs the least likely to be diagnosed, Brandes explains.

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    Migraineurs Have Rights At Work

    If you get migraine headaches, you might not know that you have rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act . The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. You must have a record of such an impairment . Once you show this to your employer, theyâre required to take certain steps to protect your health, as outlined in Title 1 of the act: “Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees. A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.”

    While everyoneâs degree of disability will vary, Aymen tells Bustle that with the right tools and accommodations, â people with migraine can be successful at work.â She encourages people with migraine to talk to their healthcare providers about their options and consider possible accommodations like light filtering equipment or a flexible work schedule.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

    The exact cause of migraine isnt known. Its believed that changes in levels of chemicals that are produced by the brain, such as serotonin, may affect how the nervous system regulates pain. Genetic and environmental factors may also play a role in causing migraine.

    The symptoms of a migraine attack can include:

    • pain thats moderate to severe, often characterized as throbbing or pulsing
    • pain that typically impacts one side of your head, but can also affect both sides
    • sensitivity to lights and sounds
    • nausea and vomiting
    • pain that gets worse with physical activity

    Additionally, migraine can also impact the area of your sinuses. When this happens, you may feel pain in your face or around your eyes.

    An found that 45.8 percent of people with migraine had symptoms that impacted their nose and eyes, such as:

    • a runny nose

    According to research, many people who have pain in the sinus region are actually experiencing migraine or another type of headache. Sinus headache is the most common incorrect diagnosis given to someone who really has migraine.

    An found that 88 percent of participants with a history of sinus headache actually met the clinical criteria for migraine.

    So, how do you know if youre experiencing sinus pain or migraine?

    When trying to tell the two conditions apart, there are a couple of important things to consider, including symptoms and timing.

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    How To Treat Headaches And Migraines

    Migraines are common problems for millions of people worldwide. Yet without a proper diagnosis, migraines may go untreated. In this scenario, you may experience migraine attacks that make it tough to work, go to school or perform various everyday tasks.

    For those who experience headaches three or more days per week, consulting with a doctor is key. A doctor can then perform a patient evaluation, as well as offer a personalized headache treatment plan.

    Sometimes, doctors recommend over-the-counter medications to alleviate headache pain. These medications may provide instant headache pain relief, but they offer no guarantees. In fact, OTC medications may fail to deliver the desired results or cause nausea, vomiting and other unwanted side effects.

    If headache pain lingers after an initial treatment, a doctor may provide a migraine diagnosis. The doctor may then prescribe different migraine medications or offer alternative treatments.

    Of course, chronic migraines may be problematic, too. If you experience 15 or more headache days per month, you may be dealing with chronic migraines.

    A neurologist can provide a chronic migraine diagnosis, as well as prescribe chronic migraine medications. However, if chronic migraine medications are ineffective or cause intolerable side effects, Dr. Jonathan Cabin of The Migraine Institute can help.

    Who Is At Risk For Migraines

    How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

    About 12% of Americans get migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you:

    • Are a woman. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
    • Have a family history of migraines. Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.
    • Have other medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of A Tension Headache

    You may have a tension-type headache if:

    • You feel pain on both sides of your head.
    • The pain isn’t severe.
    • You have tight pressure rather than throbbing. It might feel like your head is in a vice or like there’s pressure all the way around it. You may also feel soreness in your temples and tightness in your neck and shoulder muscles.

    The 4 Phases Of A Migraine Headache

    The migraine sign everyone knows is a severe headache, but there’s actually more to it than that. In fact, there are four distinct stages to a migraine that can begin up to a full day before you descend into the pits of an attack. You might not go through every migraine phase every time you have one, and you may never experience some at all. Still, keep an eye out for these signs.

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    There Are Different Kinds Of Migraines

    Migraine headaches aren’t all the same. Some people have chronic migraines, which is âwhen a person has 15 or more days of headache per month,â Dr. Jan Brandes, M.D., M.S., A.Q.H., board member of the National Headache Foundation and retired founding director of the Nashville Neuroscience Group, tells Bustle. There are also menstrual migraines, which can happen before, during, or after your period. Some people with migraines experience a visual disturbance called an aura before an attack, while others have ocular migraines, which interfere with vision but don’t cause pain.

    What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine

    Do YOU know how to recognize what kind of headache you ...

    You’re more likely to have a migraine headache if:

    • You have moderate to severe throbbing pain that may be worse on one side of your head.
    • The pain gets worse the more physically active you are. Lying down may help.
    • You have pain around your eyes or temples.
    • Light, sounds, and smells feel uncomfortable or hurt.
    • You’re nauseous.
    • You see things like wavy lines, dots, or flashing lights. About 1 in 5 people with a migraine have this.
    • Your arm or face tingles just before your headache starts.

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    Tension Headache Vs Migraine

    Tension headaches, which are brought on by emotional, mental or physical stress, are more common than migraines.

    People who have tension headaches often complain of a band of pain across their forehead, or pressure on either side of the head. The pain is tiring, but not as severe as migraine.

    Migraine, on the other hand, usually hurts worse on one side of the head. And, you may experience light sensitivity, aura, or bright lines or dots in your field of vision.

    Tension headaches may resolve on their own once the source of stress is gone. In these cases, over-the-counter pain medications and lifestyle adjustments may help.


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