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How To Tell The Difference Between A Migraine And Headache

How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Regular Headache And A Migraine

Headaches: How to tell the difference between a Headache, a Cervicogenic Headache and a Migraine.

Headaches cause pain in the head, face, or neck. These lead to mild to severe pain. The most common primary headache condition is a tension headache, which feels like a band of intense pressure around the head. Also Read Must do warm-up exercises before training Check out the video to find out

Migraine is a type of headache disorder classified as a neurological disorder and is associated with recurrent and debilitating headaches of moderate to severe intensity that are accompanied by neurological symptoms. Migraine symptoms can begin a day or two before the headache itself, known as the prodrome stage, which can include food cravings, fatigue or lack of energy, depression, hyperactivity, irritability, or neck stiffness. A migraine attack is a headache with severe throbbing pain or a pulsating feeling, usually only on one side of the head, which can be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea or vomiting or extreme sensitivity to light and noise .

Sometimes patients are confused about the difference between headaches and migraines, especially if they attribute migraine symptoms to other suspected causes such as stress, acidity, eye problems, menstruation, and other problems, which can lead to delayed diagnosis.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Headaches

The most common type of headache is considered by the International Headache Society to be a tension headache . There are over 22 types of headaches that have been described. Many are common . However, this article will be limited to migraine, tension, cluster, sinus, and hormonal headaches as these are common types.

  • Tension headaches: A tension headache is characterized by mild to moderate chronic headache pain, often with a band-like tightness discomfort or pain on both sides of the head.
  • Cluster headaches: A cluster headache produces pain on only one side of the head . The pain is excruciating with stabbing pain in the head and eye. It has been described as feeling as if the eyes are being pushed out. Cluster headaches are not preceded by an aura, and usually do not have symptoms of nausea, vomiting or aversion to light and sound.
  • Sinus headaches: A sinus headache is a type of headache usually is caused by an infection of the facial sinuses and/or sinus congestion. A sinus headache is mild to moderate head pain, and has symptoms of throbbing head pain, and/or pain produced around the facial sinuses, eyes, cheeks, and forehead, usually occurring with an infection of a facial sinus and/or sinus congestion.
  • Hormonal headaches: Hormonal headaches are headaches that can resemble either migraines or tension headaches, but occur during hormonal changes in women during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and/or menopause.
  • Ways To Prevent Migraines

    Migraine prevention is often multifaceted, involving several strategies including:

    • Medications:Preventative medications include beta-blockers, such as Tenormin , Inderal LA , or Toprol XL tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil or Pamelor CGRP inhibitors like Aimovig and Ajovy and anti-epileptic drugs like Depakote and Topamax , among others.
    • Relaxation:Since tension and stress are triggers, figuring out ways to promote relaxation can reduce attacks. Yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and taking part in relaxing activities can all help.
    • Getting good sleep: Sleep disruptions or disorders are closely associated with migraines. This is why you should ensure youre getting an adequate amount of sleep and are going to bed and getting up at consistent times every day.
    • Exercise:A regular fitness routine can help with migraines in two ways: It can help manage obesity, a common risk factor, and it can improve the quality of sleep.
    • Keeping a migraine diary:Record when your headaches are happening, what they feel like, and how they last. Keep track of your triggers so that you can work to avoid them, and make note of how medications are working.
    • Other therapies:Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese modality that employs needle sticks to stimulate nerves, may also help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. For some, Botox injections once every three months can help.

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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?

    Headaches Are Usually Relegated To The Head


    Dr. Williams acknowledged that basic headaches are noxious, telling me, “A headache is an unpleasant sensation in any region of the head or upper neck. It may appear as a dull ache, a throbbing feeling or a sharp pain, and intensities of the pain vary with whatever is causing it,” he said. “Though most people associate a headache with pain in the brain, the actual pain felt is stemming from the tissues that surround the brain. A headache can be brief lasting less than an hour or linger for several days.”

    But here’s the essential takeaway regular headache pain is localized. There aren’t additional symptoms in other parts of the body, as is the case with migraines.

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    A Migraine Is More Than Just A Headache

    As many as one billion people experience blinding migraine headaches, states the American Migraine Foundation. Migraines disproportionately strike women. Exactly why this occurs is not fully understood, says Dr. Armand. Prior to puberty, migraine tends to happen more often in males than females, and after puberty, that changes, she says. Some women do experience migraine headaches during menstruation, so hormonal changes may play a role in this gender disparity, she continues. Women may also be more likely to seek care and talk about head pain than men.

    Migraine is a neurological disease that involves a constellation of symptoms, including mild-to-severe head pain that pulsates and throbs, Dr. Grosberg says. These headaches tend to build up over time and are associated with light and sound sensitivity as well as nausea and vomiting. Migraine headaches can last up to 72 hours and there are different types of migraines. Theyre linked to an increased risk for stroke, depression, and other diseases, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

    Here Are The 6 Distinguishing Features You Need To Know

    Here are a few more things to help you identify if you have a migraine vs headache.

    The definition of migraine as per the International Headache Society is that they have at least two to four of these features below accompanied by:

    • nausea, with or without vomiting
    • sensitivity to light
    • sensitivity to noise and or odors

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    How Do You Tell The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

    The headache is caused by the contraction ofmuscles between the head and neck. A migraine,in comparison, tends to range from moderate to very severethrobbing pain at the front or the side of the head. It can beunrelenting and carry on for days and is accompanied by othersymptoms sometimes described as the ‘aura’.

    Also question is, how do you detect migraines?

    Tests for Diagnosing Headaches

  • Blood Chemistry and Urinalysis. These tests may determine manymedical conditions, including diabetes, thyroid problems, andinfections, which can cause headaches.
  • CT Scan.
  • Eye Exam.
  • Spinal Tap.
  • do you have to have a headache with a migraine? For many people, the symptoms of a typicalmigraine include sharp pain that may not subside for hours.Some people develop migraines that don’t cause pain. Theseare often called silent migraines. Eventhough they don’t cause physical pain, silent migraines maytrigger other symptoms that can bedebilitating.

    what does a headache feel like?

    Tension headaches are dull pain, tightness, orpressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck.Some people say it feels like a clamp squeezing the skull.Often called stress headaches, they’re the most common typefor adults.

    How long is too long for a migraine?

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    How Do You Know If You’re Having A Migraine Or A Headache

    Is it a Migraine or a Chronic Sinus Headache? Know the Difference

    Blog post | 11 Mar 2019

    Headaches are, unfortunately, a part of life. They can be triggered by many things, from hot dogs and ice cream to swimming goggles. Nine out of 10 people have had a headache.

    While they are are less common, it’s estimated that almost 5 million Australians experience migraines. Due to hormonal factors, migraines are believed to affect more women than men, and migraines typically run in families.

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    Migraine Vs Headache Diagnosis

    Although there are no specific tests for migraine headaches, your doctor may order tests to exclude other conditions or problems that are triggering your headaches. This may include blood work or different brain imaging, such as CAT scan or MRI. In rare cases, your doctor may order a spinal tap to exclude causes of more serious, severe headaches.

    A doctor who is experienced in treating various headaches can help differentiate the type of headaches that you have. A sinus headache often mimics some signs and symptoms of migraines.

    Monitoring the duration of your headache can provide important information that can help diagnosis the type of headache you are experiencing. Migraine headaches may last a few hours to three days, while tension headaches may last only 30 minutes or linger for up to a week.

    • Keep a headache diary to help identify triggers that lead up to the onset of the headache, for example, menstrual cycles for women, hormone treatments, and alcohol intake.
    • Keep track of when a headache begins, the severity of the pain, any associated symptoms, how long the headache lasts, and any medications that you have taken.
    • If there does not seem to be any clearly identifiable cause for your headaches, maintain a diet diary, and keep track of any foods or drinks that you may have consumed the day before a headache to identify possible triggers.

    Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors

    Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:

    • Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
    • Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
    • Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
    • Smoking.

    Also Check: Can Low Blood Pressure Cause Migraines

    Do You Question Your Diagnosis

    It’s only natural to question whether your diagnosis is correct if your treatment isn’t working, or the symptoms don’t line up. If you think you were misdiagnosed with migraine disease or cluster headaches, see your headache doctor or get a referral for one in your area from your primary care physician.

    How To Tell The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

    Headache or Migraine? How You Know the Difference

    There are really, really bad headaches and then there are migraines. As a lifelong migraine sufferer, I know a migraine is in my future because my body gives me advance warning in the form of a dull headache the day before and bouts of blurred vision, which are known as “aura.”

    According to Dr. Vernon Williams, a neurologist and director of the Kerlan-Jobe Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, “Headaches and migraines are caused when the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves in the head are overstimulated. When these pain-sensitive structures become overactive, or when chemical activity in the brain is altered, we feel the uncomfortable sensations of a headache.”

    So, what differentiates a common headache from a migraine? There are some very specific things that make migraines … migraines. Additionally, if you think you may suffer from migraines, you can take this migraine quiz and then seek the opinion and advice of a professional.

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    Lifestyle Changes That Help With Headaches

    Identifying your triggers and taking steps to avoid them where possible along with lifestyle changes can also help keep migraine and other headaches at bay. Lifestyle changes include getting regular exercise, making sure you get good quality sleep, not skipping meals, staying hydrated throughout the day, and finding healthy ways to cope with stress can make a big difference in headache prevention, says Dr. Grosberg.

    Stress makes everything worse including your headaches, Dr. Rosen adds. This is where non-drug treatment like biofeedback can shine, according to the American Migraine Foundation. During biofeedback, electrodes are attached to your skin and they monitor how your body responds to stress and teaches you how to modify this response.

    There are medications approved to treat and prevent cluster headaches as well, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

    If you are taking OTC headache remedies more days than not, it may be time to talk to your doctor about what else you could be doing to reduce your headaches, Dr. Rosen says.

    Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News,Los Angeles Daily News

    You Can Deal With Debilitating Migraines

    You can deal with migraines by knowing your triggers and managing them. As Williams reminded me, everyone’s triggers are different, but the generalized triggers are as follows: change in stress, hunger and dehydration, lack of sleep, too much sleep, direct pressure to the head , rigorous physical activity, and diet have been associated with migraines.

    Also, keep a headache diary so that you and your doctor can monitor the symptoms, intensity, and what brings them on. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

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    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.

    What Is The Treatment For Migraines

    The difference between a migraine and headaches

    Methods of treating and managing migraines can vary, including preventative therapy. People usually take acute seizure treatment, the aim of which is to stop a seizure once it starts and to relieve distressing symptoms. However, there is also a focus on preventing the attack, which can prevent further health complications. This is particularly used for chronic migraine disorders, which can be painful and debilitating, with seizures occurring 15 or more days a month.

    Treatment for migraines is patient-oriented and depends on several factors including symptoms, frequency and severity of the seizure, presence of risk factors or comorbidities, patient preference for treatment and route of administration, and whether the patient is taking other prescribed medications.

    Overall, the treatment plan includes a combination of lifestyle and behavioral adjustments and prescription migraine medications that are either preventative or abortive, or even medications that are prescribed for certain symptoms such as nausea.

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    Is It An Everyday Headache Or Something More How To Distinguish Migraine Vs Headache

    Personal Health , Article

    We’ve all experienced it: that dull ache behind the eyes, heavy pounding on the sides of the head, and familiar pressure and tightness in front of the face.

    Almost everyone gets a headache. It’s the leading cause of pain and one of the most common reasons for missed days at work or school. Nine in 10 adults experience a headache sometime in their life, while nearly two out of three children will have a headache by age 15. Most people know when they have one, but how many know the difference between a migraine vs. headache? What are the different ways to deal with each of them? Let’s investigate.

    How Are They Similar?

    The two most common types of headaches, tension headaches and migraines, are often confused because they have similar symptoms and can last from a few hours to a couple of days. However, both the nature and intensity of the pain and the resulting impact on daily living may be significantly different between the two. In addition, migraines are three times more common in women than men, while tension headaches affect both sexes about equally.

    Differences in Symptoms

    Tension Headache and Migraine Causes

    Treatment and Prevention

    Most people with tension headaches find relief with nonprescription headache medicines or over-the-counter pain relievers. Doctors recommend that patients with chronic headaches keep a diary to track triggers, frequency, and responses to different treatments.


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