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How To Tell If Its A Migraine

Headache Caused By A Medication Or Illness

How to tell if your headache is actually a migraine

Some headaches are actually symptoms of another health problem. Many non-life-threatening medical conditions, such as a head cold, the flu, or a sinus infection, can cause headache. Some less common but serious causes include bleeding, infection, or a tumor. A headache can also be the only warning signal of high blood pressure . In addition, certain medications, such as nitroglycerin and female hormones are notorious causes of headache.

Because the following symptoms could indicate a significant medical problem, seek medical care promptly if you experience:

  • a sudden headache that feels like a blow to the head
  • headache with fever
  • persistent headache following a blow to the head
  • confusion or loss of consciousness
  • headache along with pain in the eye or ear
  • relentless headache when you were previously headache-free
  • headache that interferes with routine activities.

Always take children who have recurring headaches to the doctor, especially when the pain occurs at night or is present when the child wakes in the morning.

Common types of headaches

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.

How Are Migraines Diagnosed

To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

  • Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
  • Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
  • Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
  • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
  • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
  • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
  • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
  • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
  • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.

Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.

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What Signs And Symptoms Only Occur In Migraines

Usually, but not always, migraine headaches are preceded by an aura that most commonly is a visual band with a shimmering or glittering border that precedes the head pain, and lasts about 5 to 60 minutes. However, migraine auras may consist of many different perceptions and vary from person to person. These signs and symptoms usually are present in migraine headaches:

  • Aura
  • Moderate to intense pain that is throbbing and/or pulsating on one side of the head and/or neck, and are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting
  • Physical activity may worsen headache pain

Types Of Headaches And What They Feel Like

How To Tell If You Have A Headache Or A Migraine

Here’s what some non-migraine headaches feel like.

Thunderclap HeadacheSinus HeadacheChiari Headache

A thunderclap headache is an intense one that comes about in a minute or less. It can result from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This is a condition that necessitates immediate medical attention. It can also result from an aneurysm, a stroke, or another injury. This is a real medical emergency.

Cluster headaches are intense headaches that occur on only one side of the head. They come in clusters. This means that you will have cycles of the headaches followed by pain-free times.

Sinus headaches are many times mistaken for a migraine. They come along with some other symptoms. These may be fever, nasal congestion, cough, and pressure in the face. I deal with these and find that they come on when I have a respiratory virus or my seasonal allergies get out of control.

A Chiari headache comes from a birth defect called a Chiari malformation. This is where the skull puts pressure on the brain. This results in pain in the back of the head.

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I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated

Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.

What Is A Stroke

During a stroke, blood flow to part of your brain is cut off. Cells there don’t get enough oxygen and start to die.

There can be two causes. Either a blood vessel is blocked, for instance with a blood clot, or a blood vessel tears or bursts and causes bleeding in or around the brain.

A sudden severe headache can be a sign of a stroke. Other common symptoms are:

  • Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of your body
  • Trouble speaking or trouble understanding others
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Confusion

The kind of stroke that tends to be mistaken for a migraine is called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. It’s also known as a “mini stroke” because blood flow to your brain is cut off only for a short time. Symptoms are less severe than with a regular stroke and may last less than an hour.

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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:

When To Get Medical Advice

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

You should see a GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms.

Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be effective for migraine.

Try not to use the maximum dosage of painkillers on a regular or frequent basis as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.

You should also make an appointment to see a GP if you have frequent migraines , even if they can be controlled with medicines, as you may benefit from preventative treatment.

You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you’re with experiences:

  • paralysis or weakness in 1 or both arms or 1 side of the face
  • slurred or garbled speech
  • a sudden agonising headache resulting in a severe pain unlike anything experienced before
  • headache along with a high temperature , stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision and a rash

These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or meningitis, and should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

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When To Get Emergency Medical Help

It’s important to take severe headache pain and other symptoms seriously. Get immediate medical help if you notice problems such as a sudden, severe headache that’s like a thunderclap.

Also get medical help right away if you or someone you’re with has symptoms along with a headache such as:

  • Become unconscious

What Causes Tension Headaches And Migraines

Tension-type headaches usually are brought on by stress, worry, or being tired. They cause the muscles of your scalp, neck, and jaw to tighten, and that leads to pain.

The exact cause of migraine headaches is unclear. Your genes and environment may play roles, though. You get a migraine when certain chemicals in your brain increase.

Migraine headaches can be brought on by triggers, which can include changes in your hormone levels or bright lights.

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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.

Can Stress Cause Migraines

How To Tell If You Have A Headache Or A Migraine

Yes. Stress can trigger both migraine and tension-type headache. Events like getting married, moving to a new home, or having a baby can cause stress. But studies show that everyday stresses not major life changes cause most headaches. Juggling many roles, such as being a mother and wife, having a career, and financial pressures, can be daily stresses for women.

Making time for yourself and finding healthy ways to deal with stress are important. Some things you can do to help prevent or reduce stress include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Being active
  • Doing relaxation exercises
  • Getting enough sleep

Try to figure out what causes you to feel stressed. You may be able to cut out some of these stressors. For example, if driving to work is stressful, try taking the bus or subway. You can take this time to read or listen to music, rather than deal with traffic. For stressors you can’t avoid, keeping organized and doing as much as you can ahead of time will help you to feel in control.

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Headache Or Migraine That Is The Question

Headaches sometimes tell you about your lifestyle: your life is too hectic, you arent getting enough sleep, you have poor posture at work, or youve had too much alcohol to drink. Often, the headache is talking to you, and you answer by taking a painkiller which, most of the time, makes it go away without further ado. Yet for some, less fortunate people, this pain is a backdrop to their daily lives. In this case, we say they suffer from migraines.

It is important to distinguish between headaches, technically known as cephalalgia, and migraines. There are several types of headaches. We will start by describing the three most common: tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraine headaches.

  • Tension headaches:This type of headache may be occasional or chronic. Symptoms are of mild to moderate intensity. Pressure is felt around the forehead and temples sometimes it is accompanied by neck pain. This type of headache does not cause nausea or vomiting.
  • Cluster headaches:This type of headache may occur from once every two days to eight times a day it lasts from a few minutes to several hours. The pain is very intense, penetrating but not pulsating, and is located on just one side of the head. The pain may be accompanied by tears, congestion and sweating.
  • Causes Of Migraines Or Cluster Headaches

    The cause of migraine appears to be linked to hormones, genetics or environmental factors, while the cause of cluster headaches is not fully understood. Research has linked cluster headaches to a nerve in the face that causes intense pressure around one of the eyes.

    Triggers for migraines

    Cluster headaches typically recur in certain seasons, so they are often mistaken for seasonal allergies.

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    When Should I Worry About Migraines

    The following headache symptoms mean you should get medical help right away: A sudden, new, severe headache that comes with: Weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, or cant move your body. Trouble with speech, confusion, seizures, personality changes, or inappropriate behavior.

    Whats A Migraine Journal

    How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache
    • Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
    • The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
    • What are your symptoms? Be specific.
    • Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
    • Note the weather.
    • Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
    • Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
    • Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
    • List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
    • How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
    • Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?

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    Pregnancy And Breastfeeding While Taking Reyvow

    Its not known if its safe to take Reyvow while pregnant. Talk with your doctor if youre pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant before you start this medication.

    Its also not known if its safe to breastfeed while taking Reyvow. Its not known if the drug is present in human breast milk, or if it could cause side effects in a breastfed child. Talk with your doctor about feeding options for your child while youre taking Reyvow.

    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.

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    Eek How Can I Tell If Im Having A Migraine Or Just A Tension Or Sinus Headache

    Migraine headaches can cause various symptoms before, during, and after the attack. Not all people experience all symptoms, and your migraine may be entirely different than a friends.

    Symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they start overnight, causing people to wake up with a migraine, but not always, the Mayo Clinic notes. Basically, every migraine headache is slightly different, and theres no cut and dry list of symptoms that pertain to everyone.

    All that said, there are a number of ways migraines differ from regular headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, youre likely suffering from a migraine and not something that’ll go away by popping some Advil.

    What Is A Severe Migraine

    Do You Have A Headache Or A Migraine? Here

    A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Its often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.

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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.

    Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like

    A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.

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