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How To Tell If You Have A Migraine Headache

How Are Migraines Treated

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

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.

Sinus Headache Vs Migraine

Pain with a runny or stuffy nose is the typical symptom of a sinus headache. But did you know that a migraine can also cause these symptoms? The difference is in the color of your mucus:

  • If your mucus is clear and runny, it could be a migraine.
  • Sinus headaches can be a sign of a sinus infection that causes your mucus to thicken and sometimes turn a yellowish color.

Key Facts To Know About Migraine

What is a migraine and what are the symptoms?

Cooper: A migraine is a reflex in our nervous system that we all have, and we understand the biology now better than we ever did. We know the immune system gets activated, the nervous system gets activated, and theres a consequence of a hypersensitized brain with light and sound sensitivity and pain.

Everyone in the world can have a migraine. Those who say theyve never had a migraine but have had a hangover headache have probably had a migraine that was induced by alcohol.

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For someone who has severe migraine, they cant just be fine in an hour or two when it occurs. They expand to having severe light and sound sensitivity or severe nausea sometimes having to throw up, lie down and actually sleep or rest for a day or two at a time.

They have no way to predict when thats going to happen. It may occur while a person is at work or maybe while they have something important going on, such as a wedding. Theres really no way to control that.

What causes migraine?

Cooper: Anything that irritates that nervous system experience can cause migraine. For some people, thats not getting enough sleep. For others, its because theyve been under undue amounts of stress.

Red wine can also bring out migraine, as can eating foods high in sugars and overusing caffeine.

How do I know if I have a headache or a migraine?

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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.

How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache

How To Know If You Have A Headache Or Migraine?

Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:

In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:

  • Moderate-to-severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.

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    Location Of Headache Pain Vs Migraine Pain

    Migraines and headaches can also have different areas where the pain is centralized.

    If you have a headache, you’ll likely feel pain and pressure in the forehead and scalp, and sometimes even toward the area where the spine and skull connect.

    If you have a migraine, you’ll likely feel pain on only one side of your head. You may occasionally feel pain on both sides of the head when you have a migraine, but the pain will likely feel more intense on one side.

    If you can clearly identify that the pain is on one side of your head instead of across your forehead or across your entire head, you’re likely dealing with a migraine. Each case is different, though, so make sure you monitor for other symptoms.

    What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

    Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.

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    Can Migraines Be Prevented

    You can’t prevent every migraine. But learning your triggers and trying to avoid them can help. Take a break from activities that might start a migraine, such as using the computer for a long time. If you know that some foods are triggers, skip them. Some people find that cutting back on caffeine or drinking a lot of water can help prevent migraines.

    Make a plan for all the things you have to do especially during stressful times like exams so you don’t feel overwhelmed when things pile up. Regular exercise also can reduce stress and make you feel better.

    The more you understand about your headaches, the better prepared you can be to fight them.

    How Are Migraines Diagnosed

    How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

    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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    Are Migraines Hereditary

    Migraines tend to run in families. As many as four out of five people with migraines have a family history. If one parent has a history of migraines, their child has a 50% chance of having them. If both parents have a history of migraines, the risk jumps to 75%. Again, up to 80% of people with migraines have a first-degree relative with the disease.

    What Is A Migraine

    A migraine is a type of primary headache disorder that can cause severe pain and other symptoms. People with migraine may experience recurring symptoms that doctors call episodes or attacks.

    Headaches are only one symptom of migraines, and they can range in severity. Migraine can cause intense, throbbing headaches that last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

    A migraine headache usually affects one side of the head, but some people experience pain on both sides.

    A migraine episode can occur in four distinct phases, though not everyone experiences every phase.

    Premonitory phase

    Doctors also call the premonitory phase the preheadache or prodrome phase. It includes nonpainful symptoms that occur hours or days before the headache arrives.

    Premonitory phase symptoms can include:

    • unexplainable mood changes
    • sensitivity to light, sound, or smells

    Aura phase

    Auras refer to sensory disturbances that occur before or during a migraine attack. Auras can affect a persons vision, touch, or speech.

    Visual auras can cause the following symptoms in one or both eyes:

    • flashing lights
    • blurred vision
    • blind spots that expand over time

    Sensory auras cause numbness or tingling that starts in the arm and radiates to the face.

    Motor auras affect a persons ability to communicate and think clearly. Motor auras include:

    • slurred or jumbled speech
    • difficulty understanding what others say
    • difficulty writing words or sentences
    • having trouble thinking clearly

    Headache phase

    Postdrome phase

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    What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

    Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:

    • Visual symptoms or vision loss.
    • Sensory symptoms .

    Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:

    • The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
    • Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.

    Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:

    • Nausea and/or vomiting.
    • Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
    • Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.

    How Long Does An Omicron/covid Headache Last

    Migraine or headache? How to identify pain in the head

    The Zoe study reports that a headache tends to come on at the start of the infection, and last around three to five days.

    However, the NHS has said that they can last longer, normally improving within two weeks of being infected.

    It can also be one of the first signs that you have the virus, with a headache sometimes coming on before any of the other symptoms appear.

    Those who suffer from long Covid-19 can also experience these types of headaches for some time after being infected with the NHS reporting that those with a history of headaches are more likely to experience this.

    Read Also: Medication For Migraines And Seizures

    What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

    • Will my child grow out of their migraines?
    • What medications do you recommend for me?
    • What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
    • Should I get tested?
    • What type of migraine do I have?
    • What can my friends and family do to help?
    • Are my migraines considered chronic?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.

    References

    Seek Additional Help From A Specialist If Necessary

    Its critical that a headache be properly diagnosed and treated, Hutchinson said. Some health care providers have gone for extra training and are certified in headache medicine. To find a specialist, Hutchinson recommended checking out the American Headache Society and the National Headache Foundation.

    Its critical that a headache be properly diagnosed and treated.

    – Susan Hutchinson, director of the Orange County Migraine & Headache Center

    At the very least, speak up at your next visit to the doctor. You may think youre just experiencing an average headache, but theres a chance youre not: Research shows that 1 out of 6 Americans will suffer from migraines, with 12 percent of Americans experiencing a migraine at some point in their life. If youre a woman, your risk is even higher. Chatting with your physician about treatment options could make a huge difference.

    There is an undertreatment of these headaches where people are either getting the wrong kind of treatment for a different type of headache or no treatment at all because they dont know whats available, Cabin said.

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    Whats A Migraine Journal

    • 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?

    When You Get A Migraine

    How to know if you have migraine Headaches?

    Try to treat your symptoms right away. This may help make the headache less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:

    • Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you have vomited
    • Rest in a quiet, dark room
    • Place a cool cloth on your head
    • Avoid smoking or drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks
    • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
    • Try to sleep

    Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, are often helpful when your migraine is mild.

    Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medicines can treat nausea and vomiting.

    Follow your provider’s instructions about how to take all of your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.

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    What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine

    If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:

  • How often you have headaches
  • Where the pain is
  • How long the headaches last
  • When the headaches happen, such as during your period
  • Other symptoms, such as nausea or blind spots
  • Any family history of migraine
  • All the medicines that you are taking for all your medical problems, even the over-the-counter medicines
  • All the medicines you have taken in the past that you can recall and, if possible, the doses you took and any side effects you had
  • Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.

    You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.

    Comparing Migraine Pain To Childbirth

    When I was pregnant, I was never super concerned about the pain of childbirth mainly because Id been a migraine sufferer for many years. I figured Id dealt with my fair share of pain. Since birthing my baby boy, Ive described trying to function during a migraine like this, Migraine pain is like asking a woman a the height of child labor to get up and fix Thanksgiving Dinner.

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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.

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