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What Kind Of Migraine Do I Have Test

Psychological Evaluation For Diagnosing Headaches

The 3-Minute “What Kind of Headache do I Have?” Video

An interview with a psychologist is not a routine part of a headache evaluation, but it may be done to identify stress factors triggering your headaches. You may be asked to complete a computerized questionnaire to provide in-depth information to the doctor.

After evaluating the results of the headache history and physical, neurological, and psychological exams, your doctor should be able to tell the type of headache you have, whether it’s serious, and whether more tests are needed.

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

How Severe Or Frequent Should My Headaches Be Before I Seek A Diagnosis

For people who experience migraine once or twice a month and are able to manage it with an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, its really up to the individual if they want to seek further treatment, says Sandhya Kumar, MD, a neurologist and headache specialist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

If you have headaches more than four times a month and theyre impacting your quality of life, you should consider seeking a diagnosis and further treatment that is specific for migraine, she says.

Even for people who have more infrequent attacks, say once or twice a month, but they are debilitating, and they have to take the whole day off work or stay in bed all day, that person should seek a diagnosis and medical treatment for migraine, says Dr. Kumar.

We have a lot of medications we can use not only rescue medications when they have a headache, but also preventive medications to decrease the severity and frequency of their headaches, she adds.

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What Is An Aura

An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. Commonly misinterpreted as a seizure or stroke, it typically happens before the headache pain, but can sometimes appear during or even after. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.

Aura symptoms are reversible, meaning that they can be stopped/healed. An aura produces symptoms that may include:

  • Seeing bright flashing dots, sparkles, or lights.
  • Blind spots in your vision.
  • Numb or tingling skin.

Migraine Tension And Cluster Headaches Are Considered To Belong To Which Category Of Headaches

We all get headaches, but do you know what kind you get? I ...

The primary headache disorders include migraine, tension-type headache, and cluster headache. Headache is the main symptoms of these conditions. Secondary headaches occur in response to another underlying condition. Many medical problems can cause secondary headaches, including overuse of certain medications.

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Headaches And Migraine Symptoms

Traditional Migraine: These moderate to severe headaches occur one side of the head with pain described as pulsating, throbbing, or pounding. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and noise. Physical activity and movement can make symptoms worse such as feeling shooting headache pain or nausea. Up to 80% of people may experience the sensation pain from a non-painful stimulation, such as a light touch to the shoulder. Others experience vertigo called a vestibular migraine. Treatment is critical as symptoms can last for a few hoursto a few daysdepending on how quickly the migraine is addressed. Traditional migraine does not have aura symptoms, described below.

Migraine with Aura: This type of migraine, which is sometimes categorized as an ocular or visual migraine, comes with pain like that of a traditional migraine, plus sensory disturbances such as seeing bright dots or zigzag lines, having tunnel vision, experiencing speech problems or tingling on one side of the body. These disturbances usually last between 20 to 60 minutes prior to a migraine attack. See how one migraineur has used her aura experience to create works of art based on what she sees during the attacks.

Still unsure of what type of headache you may be experiencing? Take our headache quiz.

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.

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    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.

    Are There Different Kinds Of Migraine

    What Kind of Headache Do You Have?

    Yes, there are many forms of migraine. The two forms seen most often are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

    Migraine with aura . With a migraine with aura, a person might have these sensory symptoms 10 to 30 minutes before an attack:

    • Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
    • Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
    • Disturbed sense of smell, taste, or touch
    • Feeling mentally “fuzzy”

    Only one in five people who get migraine experience an aura. Women have this form of migraine less often than men.

    Migraine without aura . With this form of migraine, a person does not have an aura but has all the other features of an attack.

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    What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine

    The best way to prevent migraine is to find out what triggers your attacks and avoid or limit these triggers. Since migraine headaches are more common during times of stress, finding healthy ways to cut down on and cope with stress might help. Talk with your doctor about starting a fitness program or taking a class to learn relaxation skills.

    Talk with your doctor if you need to take your pain-relief medicine more than twice a week. Doing so can lead to rebound headaches. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to help prevent migraine, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how long you should take the medicine. Talk with your doctor if the amount of medicine you are prescribed is not helping your headaches.

    How Are Migraines Treated

    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.

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    Who Suffers More Frequently From Migraine Headaches

    Migraines are more common in women women make up about 75% of those who suffer from migraines. They are most common in women between 20 and 45 years of age, a time of life when women typically have many job and family responsibilities. Women tend to have longer and more painful migraines, making it difficult for many to fulfill their work and family responsibilities when a migraine occurs.

    What Is A Migraine

    Handy Charts to Help Deal with Migraines

    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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    Migraine Without Head Pain

    Also called a Silent or Acephalgic Migraine, this type of migraine can be very alarming as you experience dizzying aura and other visual disturbances, nausea, and other phases of migraine, but no head pain. It can be triggered by any of a persons regular triggers, and those who get them are likely to experience other types of migraine, too. The International Headache Society classifies this type as typical aura without headache.

    How To Treat Migraine And Headaches

    There are a variety of ways to help reduce or prevent headache symptoms. The first step is to find a doctor who can diagnose what type of headache you have just seeing your primary doctor is not likely to get you the diagnosis or treatment you need. Instead seek out a neurologist or headache specialist. The Migraine Research Foundation provides a list of headache doctors by state and city.

    To diagnose your headache, you will probably be asked to fill out a detailed medical history and undergo a physical exam that will include testing your motor skills, senses, and reflexes. To rule out any possible serious conditions that may be causing your headaches, you also may be asked to undergo blood tests and imaging such as an MRI or CAT scan.

    Once the diagnosis is made, your doctor will recommend a treatment approach based on the type of headache you have and the severity of your symptoms. The most common approaches include medications and making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding your known triggers and reducing stress.

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    Referral To A Specialist

    A GP may decide to refer you to a neurologist, a specialist in conditions affecting the brain and nervous system, for further assessment and treatment if:

    • a diagnosis is unclear
    • you experience migraines on 15 days or more a month
    • treatment is not helping to control your symptoms

    Page last reviewed: 10 May 2019 Next review due: 10 May 2022

    What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine

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    Individual migraines are moderate to severe in intensity, often characterized by a throbbing or pounding feeling. Although they are frequently one-sided, they may occur anywhere on the head, neck and face or all over. At their worst, they are typically associated with sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells. Nausea is one of the most common symptoms and it worsens with activity, which often results in patient disability. In many respects, migraines are much like alcohol-related hangovers.

    Migraine pain can be felt in the face, where it may be mistaken for sinus headache or in the neck, where it may be mistaken for arthritis or muscle spasm. Complicating the diagnosis of migraine is that the headaches may be accompanied by other “sinus like” symptoms, including watering eyes, nasal congestion and a sense of facial pressure. Most patients who think they have sinus headache in fact have migraines.

    In up to 25 percent of patients, the migraine headache pain may be preceded by an aura, a temporary neurological syndrome that slowly progresses and then typically resolves just as the pain begins. While the most common type of migraine aura involves visual disturbances , many people experience numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, vertigo and other strokelike neurological symptoms. Some patients may experience auras without headaches.

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    Are Migraine Headaches More Common In Women Than Men

    Yes. About three out of four people who have migraines are women. Migraines are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time of life women often have more job, family, and social duties. Women tend to report more painful and longer lasting headaches and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. All these factors make it hard for a woman to fulfill her roles at work and at home when migraine strikes.

    When Should I Seek Help For My Headaches

    Sometimes, headache can signal a more serious problem. You should talk to your doctor about your headaches if:

    • You have several headaches per month and each lasts for several hours or days
    • Your headaches disrupt your home, work, or school life
    • You have nausea, vomiting, vision, or other sensory problems
    • You have pain around the eye or ear
    • You have a severe headache with a stiff neck
    • You have a headache with confusion or loss of alertness
    • You have a headache with convulsions
    • You have a headache after a blow to the head
    • You used to be headache-free, but now have headaches a lot

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    Migraine And Headache Causes

    Migraine and tension headaches usually have a genetic link just as some inherit asthma or another illness, you likely inherited a tendency to get these headaches from your family. Once inherited, several factors can trigger an attack.

    The top FOUR migraine triggers are:

  • stress
  • weatherchanges such as when there is a drop in barometric pressure from a front coming in, high heat, high humidity, or other weather changes
  • hormonechanges
  • undersleeping, lack of sleep
  • Less common migraine triggers are alcohol and MSG.

    Tension Headache Common Triggers

    • tiredness

    Cluster Headache Common Triggers

    Unlike migraine and tension headaches, cluster headaches tend to occur because of abnormalities in a region of the brain that connects the nervous system to the endocrine system . Once a person has clusters, alcohol or MSG may trigger an attack.

    The Worst Headache Of Your Life May Be A Symptom Of A Life

    PPT

    Should you ever feel that you are suffering the worst headache of your life, seek immediate medical attention.The “worst headache of your life” may arise due to a medical emergency, like hemorrhage within the brain or meningitis, inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation of the brain can also develop from infection. Inflammation can damage brain tissue and requires urgent medical care.

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    What If Treatment Doesnt Work

    There are many different ways to address headaches. When you start a treatment program, keep track of your results. A headache log can help you measure progress.

    Ask yourself:

    • Are my headaches less frequent?
    • Are they less severe?
    • Do they go away faster?

    If you dont notice an improvement, talk to your doctor at the next follow-up exam. You may need to try something new.

    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.

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