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What Happens When You Have A Migraine

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

What happens to your brain during a migraine – Marianne Schwarz

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.

    How To Tell If You Have A Migraine

    This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 85% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 54,290 times.

    People get headaches for all kinds of reasons. Migraine headaches, which can last from a few hours up to several days, are painful and difficult to get through. They affect about 12 percent of the population, and are three times more common in women than in men.XTrustworthy SourceMedlinePlusCollection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of MedicineGo to source Migraines can be treated with rest and proper care, but to first you’ll need to figure out if you are having one.

    What Is Chronic Migraine

    Chronic migraine is defined as having headache on at least 15 days per month, with eight of these having migraine symptoms, for at least three months. People who have fewer headache days with migraine symptoms have episodic migraine.

    If you have chronic migraine your symptoms may include:

    • frequent headache
    • increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells
    • nausea
    • vomiting .

    Other symptoms include aura , dizziness and vertigo .

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    Your Er Doctor May Or May Not Be Very Familiar With Migraine

    Watch a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, and it will become clear. You’re not going to get a board-certified headache specialist, or even a neurologist, in your local ER. After all, they’re trained to set a broken arm, remove a bullet and shock your heart. Stat!

    “I was taken to the ER in an ambulance with Migraine Aura, thinking I was having a stroke because half of my tongue was numb and I was slurring my speech . Of course, the doctor who saw me was pissed that I wasted his time, and talked to me like I was an idiot.” Monica S.

    “That was my very last visit and I will NEVER go back for a migraine. It was very traumatic for me and made matters worse. I also think that ER docs are trained to treat emergencies and having a migraine is low on their list and not an emergency to themso you are handled in a very, very slow manner and a lot of times without compassion.” Cherry S.

    “When I went the ER doctor was SUPER nice about it. They turned off the lights and made me do a CT scan. Since I had not had one that was like that, he was afraid I was having a stroke. Two days before I had gone in with the same migraine, but they treated it like a tension headache and acted like I was wasting their time.” Megan P.

    When Should I Call The Doctor

    What Actually Happens To Your Brain When You Have A ...

    If you think your headaches may be migraines, you’ll want to see a doctor to treat them and learn ways to try to avoid getting the headaches in the first place. Sometimes relaxation exercises or changes in diet or sleeping habits are all that’s needed. But if needed, a doctor also can prescribe medicine to help control the headaches.

    You’ll also want to see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms as well as a headache:

    • changes in vision, such as blurriness or seeing spots
    • tingling sensations
    • skin rash
    • weakness, dizziness, or difficulty walking or standing
    • neck pain or stiffness
    • fever

    If you do see a doctor for headaches, he or she will probably want to do an exam and get your to help figure out what might be causing them.

    The doctor may ask you:

    • how severe and frequent your headaches are
    • when they happen
    • about any medicine you take
    • about any allergies you have
    • if you’re feeling stressed
    • about your diet, habits, sleeping patterns, and what seems to help or worsen the headaches

    The doctor may also do blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems.

    Sometimes doctors will refer people with headaches they think might be migraines or a symptom of a more serious problem to a specialist like a , a doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system.

    It’s very rare that headaches are a sign of something serious. But see a doctor if you get headaches a lot or have a headache that:

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    What Is A Migraine

    A migraine is not simply a bad headache. A migraine is an intense headache that may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea , vomiting , visual problems and an increased sensitivity to light or sound.

    Migraines commonly last between four hours and three days. Some people experience migraines several times a week. Others might only experience attacks every few years. If you experience headaches on 15 days or more each month, and eight of these headaches are migraines, this is known as;chronic migraine.

    Although migraines are not life-threatening and do not shorten peoples life expectancies, they can significantly damage the quality of peoples lives. A World Health Organisation study identified migraine as the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability . Repeated migraines can have a negative impact on family life, social life and employment.

    There are two main types of migraine: migraine without aura and migraine with aura .

    Impact Of Chronic Migraine

    If you have chronic migraine it will have a huge impact on your daily life. Chronic migraine is related to greater disability and has a huge impact on your physical, social and work life. It can also have a huge impact on your relationships. Many people with chronic migraine report lower quality of life and poorer health than people with episodic migraine.

    It can be challenging to find an appropriate treatment and you may have spent years trying to find a way to make your migraine manageable.

    If you are struggling with chronic migraine speak to your GP, specialist or contact our Information and Support Services team.

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    What Does An Attack Look Like

    There are four distinct phases of a migraine attack: prodrome, aura, headache, postdrome. You dont have to experience all the phases. In fact, only about 20% of people with migraine have an aura. Understanding the phases can help you manage the disease better.

    The prodrome and aura phases usually occur before the headache develops. Prodrome may precede the migraine attack by several hours or even days. Typical prodrome symptoms include extreme tiredness and yawning, irritability or moodiness, difficulty concentrating, and food cravings. About 75% of people with migraine experience a prodromebut often they dont recognize it as the beginning of an attack. Aura is rarer and usually begins just before the headache starts. Most people experience changes in their vision, while others notice tingling, numbness or trouble speaking.

    These symptoms can serve as a warning sign and allow you to take acute medication before the headache begins. Identifying and treating a migraine early can even help prevent further symptoms in some people.

    Migraine Symptoms: Sneaky Signs Before Your Head Hurts

    [ Watch Now ] What happens to your brain when you have a headache

    The intense, throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and occasional nausea and vomiting are telltale signs of a migraine. But for someone going through their first experience with the torturous headaches, migraines are often not so easily pinpointed.

    That’s because early symptoms can occur as long as 24 hours before any head pain, leaving a migraine sufferer confused and often frightened that something is horribly wrong, says Dawn C. Buse, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the director of behavioral medicine at Montefiore Headache Center. Something significant is certainly occurring, but many are often relieved to find out it’s “just” a migraine. “While it’s disturbing, it’s not dangerous,” says Buse.

    In an attempt to help soothe any future fears — and maybe dispel some of the very real stigma facing migraine sufferers — here are some of the most common signs it’s a migraine — before your head even hurts.

    The Prodrome Stage Migraines typically consist of four stages, although each individual migraine sufferer may not experience all four. Prodrome is the very first, and can start anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before you notice any head pain, says Buse. About 60 percent of migraine sufferers experience the symptoms related with this stage, she says, which include:

    • Spots or flashes of light
    • Vision loss
    • Confusion

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    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.

    A Trigger Starts A Reaction

    First, nerve cells within your brainstem are activated or triggered. This activation can occur for a variety of reasons, including lack of sleep, food or water, for example. A drop in magnesium levels, abnormal calcium channels on the surface of the neuron, mitochondrial changes or other genetic abnormalities are all possible factors.

    Once activated, the neurons send messages along the trigeminal nerves, a major pain pathway that starts in the brain stem and travels along your face, teeth, eyes, sinuses and forehead, as well as to blood vessels on the surface of the brain. These blood vessels expand or dilate in response.

    Activity then occurs across the surface of the brain, called a spreading cortical depression. This spread moves like a slowly advancing thunderstorm, traveling from the back to the front of your brain. As it passes over the brain, blood vessels constrict, limiting oxygen flow.;

    Researchers believe the cortical may be the cause of the visual auras that some people with migraine experience. These auras result in people seeing dark or colored spots, sparkles, or other visual disturbances.;

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    Acephalgic Migraine Or Migraine Without Headache

    Acephalgic migraine is also known as migraine without headache, aura without headache, silent migraine, and visual migraine without headache. Acephalgic migraines occur when a person has an aura, but doesnt get a headache. This type of migraine isnt uncommon in people who start having migraines after age 40.

    Visual aura symptoms are most common. With this type of migraine, the aura may gradually occur with symptoms spreading over several minutes and move from one symptom to another. After visual symptoms, people may have numbness, speech problems, and then feel weak and unable to move a part of their body normally. Read on to get a better understanding of acephalgic or silent migraines.

    Also known as menstrual migraines and exogenous estrogen withdrawal headaches, hormonal migraines are linked with the female hormones, commonly estrogen. They include migraines during:

    • your period
    • pregnancy
    • perimenopause
    • the first few days after you start or stop taking medications that have estrogen in them, such as birth control pills or hormone therapy

    If youre using hormone therapy and have an increase in headaches, your doctor may talk with you about:

    • adjusting your dose
    • changing the type of hormones
    • stopping hormone therapy

    Theories About Migraine Pain

    What happens in the brain when you have a headache ...

    Older theories about migraines suggested that symptoms were possibly due to fluctuations in blood flow to the brain. Now many headache researchers realize that changes in blood flow and blood vessels don’t initiate the pain, but may contribute to it.

    Current thinking regarding migraine pain has moved more toward the source of the problem, as improved technology and research have paved the way for a better understanding. Today, it is widely understood that chemical compounds and hormones, such as serotonin and estrogen, often play a role in pain sensitivity for migraine sufferers.

    One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells. These trigger chemicals, such as serotonin, to narrow blood vessels. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. It can cause narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body.

    When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.

    For women, estrogen levels naturally vary over the life cycle, with increases during fertile years and decreases afterwards. Women of childbearing age also experience monthly changes in estrogen levels. Migraines in women are often associated with these fluctuating hormone levels and may explain why women are more likely to have migraines than men.

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    Understanding Migraine And Stroke

    Stroke and migraine both happen in the brain, and sometimes the symptoms of a migraine can mimic a stroke. However, the causes of the symptoms are different. A stroke is due to damage to the blood supply inside the brain, but migraine is thought to be due to problems with the way brain cells work.;

    In a stroke, the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells. This causes permanent damage to the brain, and can have long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional effects.;

    A migraine causes pain and sensory disturbances, but the changes inside the brain are usually temporary.;

    The relationship between migraine and stroke is complex. The symptoms can sometimes seem similar, and they may share some underlying risk factors.

    Migrainous infarction

    Occasionally migraine and stroke can happen together, but there is no evidence to suggest that one causes the other. Migrainous infarction is the term given to an ischaemic stroke that happens during a migraine. This tends to happen alongside prolonged aura symptoms, but is extremely rare.;

    Stroke risk and migraine

    If you have migraine with aura, you’re about twice as likely to have an ischaemic stroke in your lifetime, compared to those without migraine. However, the overall risk linked to migraine is still very low, and you’re far more likely to have a stroke because of other risk factors like smoking and high blood pressure.;

    Women and migraine

    Other health conditions

    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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    The Migraine Spreadsthen Stops

    The initial migraine pain that starts with the activation of the neurons in the brainstem changes after about 1 to 2 hours. The migraine then moves to a second stage, where the central nervous system becomes hypersensitive and involved.;

    If you can take medication before the second stage of the migraine occurs, you are more likely to be able to stop the . Triptan medication can shut down the initial pain by narrowing the blood vessels and blocking pain transmission.

    But if the pain cycle continues to the central nervous system, medication becomes less effective. If untreated, migraine can last up to 72 hours, before the nervous system response finally quiets and your brain returns to its normal, pre-activation state.

    Migraine Is Much More Than Just A Headache

    Lean About Migraine Aura

    There are different;types of migraine;that involve different symptoms. There are many features or symptoms that are a part of migraine. There are also differences in how severe a symptom might be.

    The most common symptoms of a migraine attack include:

    • throbbing headache
    • sensitivity to light, noise and smell
    • nausea
    • lethargy

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    Can Headaches Or Migraines Be Cured

    Treating health problems that cause headaches, such as high blood pressure, can eliminate head pain. Recently, there have been several new advancements in our understanding of what causes headaches. Although we are closer than ever before to a cure, at this time there is no cure for primary headaches. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing future episodes.

    What Happens When You Experience A Migraine

    From symptoms to the frequency and severity of attacks, everyones experience with migraine will be different. There are four different phases of migraines and you dont always go through all of them during an episode.

    • Prodrome

    Known as the premonitory phase, prodrome usually starts up to 24 hours before the migraine hits. This is often considered a warning sign for an impending attack. Some early signs and symptoms include irritability, food cravings, unexplained mood changes, uncontrollable yawning, and increased urination.

    • Aura

    Some migraines are preceded by an aura sensory or visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zig-zag lines, or a temporary loss of vision. An aura can also involve physical sensations, such as tingling, numbness, and dizziness.

    Some individuals experience muscle weakness or feel like they are being touched or grabbed. Others struggle with speech or language difficulties. These can happen just before or during an episode. A migraine with aura is called classic migraine.

    • Headache

    A migraine attack usually starts gradually and becomes more severe over time. The headache phase is characterized by throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head.

    While most tend to associate migraine episodes with this phase, its possible to have silent migraines when one experiences aura symptoms without a headache.

    • Postdrome

    Several factors might make you more prone to having migraines, including:

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