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What To Do If You Have A Migraine

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

What to do if you have headache?

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.

    Can Your Diet Affect Migraine Pain

    Some people report that certain foods, such as alcohol and chocolate, can trigger their migraines. If you think that your migraines happen when you eat a certain food, try limiting the food for four weeks and keep a diary of your symptoms during that time. Eating a balanced diet with whole foods is also an important part of staying healthy and reducing the risk of migraines.

    Experts Advise Against Taking Migraine Drugs Or Painkillers Before Getting The Vaccine

    There’s a lot of debate, even within the scientific community, about whether a person should take a medication as a preventive measure to ease side effects before getting the vaccine and particularly about what effect medications could have on the immune response, says Estemalik.

    A study published in January 2021 in the Journal of Virologyfound that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may reduce the production of antibodies and affect the immune response to the virus itself.

    The CDC recommends against the use of pain relievers before the vaccine shot.

    Estemalik agrees. In my opinion, people should not premedicate with any medication before taking the vaccine. That would include any migraine treatment or over-the-counter painkillers, he says.

    Strauss suggests making sure youre fully hydrated before getting the vaccine. This may help not only with any potential headache, but also with dizziness, another possible side effect, she says.

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    How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or Just A Bad Tension

    Compared with migraine, tension-type headache is generally less severe and rarely disabling. Compare your symptoms with those in this chart to see what type of headache you might be having.

    Migraine vs. bad tension-type headache

    Symptom
    Aura before onset of headache;x

    Note: Rebound headache may have features of tension and/or migraine headache. Adapted from a table produced by the American Council for Headache Education.

    Although fatigue and stress can bring on both tension and migraine headaches, migraines can be triggered by certain foods, changes in the body’s hormone levels, and even changes in the weather.

    There also are differences in how types of headaches respond to treatment with medicines. Although some over-the-counter drugs used to treat tension-type headaches sometimes help migraine headaches, the drugs used to treat migraine attacks do not work for tension-type headaches for most people.

    You can’t tell the difference between a migraine and a tension-type headache by how often they occur. Both can occur at irregular intervals. Also, in rare cases, both can occur daily or almost daily.

    What Is Status Migrainosis

    Knowing the Type of Headache You Have

    This problem can happen to anyone with migraine. When our typical medicines stop working and migraine keeps going beyond the usual 4-72 hours, we may be experiencing a complication of migraine called status migrainosus.

    In A Neurologists Guide to Status Migrainosus Therapy in the Emergency Room, Drs. Gelfand and Goadsby state, It must be stated at the outset that an ED visit for migraine represents a failure of appropriate outpatient management, and modifications in the patients rescue plan need to be made to avoid such visits in the future.1

    Also Check: How To Get A Migraine

    When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider

    • You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
    • You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
    • Your headache comes on suddenly.
    • You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.

    Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:

    • The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
    • Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.

    How Do I Know If Im Having A Migraine Attack

    Symptoms vary from person to person. A migraine attack typically involves head pain that is moderate to severe in intensityeven unbearable. The pain is often in one area of the head and can feel like its throbbing or pulsating.

    Other common symptoms of migraine include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or smells.

    Migraine attacks can interfere with your work, school or other activities, either causing you to miss events or affecting your performance. An attack can last anywhere from four hours to several days.

    The four phases of a migraine attack include prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome. Of people with migraine, 75% experience prodrome symptoms that can serve as early warning signs of an attack. Recognizing the signs of a migraine attack early can allow a person to take acute medication before the headache phase begins and help prevent, or reduce, further symptoms.

    Read Also: Can Amitriptyline Be Used For Migraines

    Nausea And Vomiting Make It Harder To Take Migraine Meds

    Delayed stomach emptying and/or vomiting can also make it more difficult to take the medication needed to stop a Migraine attack. Many people delay taking oral medication because of stomach upset. Once taken, the medication may take longer to absorb in the stomach.

    Migraine attacks are easiest to treat at the very first sign. Waiting to take medication can both prolong the attack and weaken the amount of relief.

    While gastric stasis may explain some of the Migraine nausea and vomiting, it is not the whole story. Recent research found that nausea remains even after gastric stasis improves. And triptans, the most commonly prescribed Migraine medication, actually make gastric stasis worse while providing nausea relief at the same time.

    The most recent theories point to either the nervous system or changes in the brain stem during an attack as possible causes of Migraine nausea and vomiting

    If you’re nauseous and afraid of throwing up one of your nine triptan tablets of the month, you might avoid taking an oral medication. That’s why a few pharmaceutical companies have devised medication delivery systems that avoid the digestive tract altogether.

    Further research is needed before a clear picture emerges. Luckily, relief from nausea and vomiting is already available in both natural forms and in prescription medications.

    What Is An Aura

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

    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.

    Recommended Reading: Va Rating For Migraine Headaches

    How Are They Treated

    Both migraine and chronic migraine can be treated with the same drugs. These include medications that treat the pain and symptoms as well as drugs that treat the underlying cause of migraine. In some cases, there are medical devices you can use to interrupt the headache. Still, no treatment is perfect.

    Because of that, chronic migraines can take a toll on your personal life. If you get painful headaches for half of each month, you lose days of work or school and precious time with friends and family. It√Ęs common for people with chronic migraines to also have depression.

    How To Tell You’re Having A Migraine

    Migraines are severely disabling, with symptoms ranging from intense head pain to nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. If you suffer from migraines, it’s helpful to know some common warning signs, so you can prepare for or try to prevent one. Watch this video for signs that a migraine might be around the corner.

    Recommended Reading: Type Of Headache Quiz

    When Should Rescue Treatments Be Used

    One of the common failures in acute treatment of migraine is the lack of rescue treatments. A rescue treatment is different than the typical medicine you use to abort a migraine. Most often, patients are prescribed a triptan, NSAID, or ergot-derivative to abort a migraine attack. These are acute medications that can be used at the first sign of symptoms. When these treatments fail, it is appropriate to use a rescue treatment.

    What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

    How to Deal with Migraine Headaches. On Top10HomeRemedies ...

    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.

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    Throbbing Pain On One Or Both Sides Of The Head

    Pulsating pain is a classic sign of migraines. The throbbing is often felt on one side of the head.

    In an online survey of patients with migraines, the National Headache Foundation found that 50% “always” have throbbing on one side, while 34% say they “frequently” have this symptom.

    Migraine pain often burrows behind the eye.

    People will blame it on eye strain and many will get their eyes checked, but that won’t make their headaches any better, Dr. Messina says.

    Acute Treatment For Migraines

    There are many types of medications that can be used to stop a migraine attack in progress. These medications help ease the pain. They can also help with other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. In general, first-line medication choices usually involve a combination of NSAIDs, triptans, and anti-nausea medications. Lets run through these medications here.

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    Avoiding The Emergency Room

    If you do not have a rescue treatment available for home use when abortives fail, then please talk to your doctor. This is an essential part of migraine management that is often overlooked.; For decades, I would ask my doctor what to do if my triptan failed. His only response was to visit the ER. It wasnt until I pushed back, insisting that a visit to the ER for a cocktail shot of Toradol, Benadryl, and Phenergan was unnecessarily expensive and wasteful did he agree to prescribe these medicines to me for home use.

    Starting in 2013, I began using IM injections of Toradol with a Phenergan suppository as my rescue treatment. Thanks to this, I have been able to avoid the ER ever since. Instead, a few times each year, I am able to treat unresponsive attacks at home, saving me thousands of dollars and avoiding the unnecessary use of the ER.

    I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle

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    More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.

    How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.

    Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.

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    Have A Treatment Plan

    A solid plan can give you the power to relieve a migraine before the pain becomes severe. This may be the most important weapon you have against future migraine attacks.

    Your plan will likely include taking medications when you feel a migraine coming on. Knowing which medication to take can lower your stress level because it removes some of the guesswork of what you should do. Your plan may include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, or some combination of the two. You should work with your doctor to develop a migraine treatment plan thats right for you.

    How Disabling Is Migraine

    Migraine is the worlds third most common ailment and the leading cause of disability in those aged 15 to 49.

    In the peak productive years of most peoples lives and careers, this is the most disabling condition, says Dr. Christine Lay, a Professor of Neurology and the founding director of the Headache Program at the University of Toronto.

    Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine. Our migraines also last longer, happen more often, and are more intense. More women experience nausea, aura, and sensitivity to light and sound.

    Despite being such a common and disabling disease, migraine is sorely misunderstoodeven by physicians. According to Lay, close to 50 percent of patients with migraine are misdiagnosed; they are often told they have a tension or vascular headache and dont receive appropriate treatment. Among those who are accurately diagnosed, half are given the wrong therapyor their treatment isnt adjusted when it needs to be. She says its critical for doctors to be educated about the disorder.

    In medical school, the average doctor will receive only four to six hours of teaching in headache, says Lay, Yet migraine is one of the most disabling health conditions.

    Because of this misunderstanding, migraineurs often lack the support and empathy they need.

    As a result, people try to power through their migraine attacks. But migraine can make it impossible to get work doneand causes an even greater loss of productivity than calling in sick.

    Also Check: What Type Of Migraine Do I Have Quiz

    Managing Migraines At Home

    A migraine is a common type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Most people feel a throbbing pain on only one side of their head during a migraine.

    Some people who get migraines have warning signs, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms that includes vision changes. An aura is a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.

    Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:

    • Any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, as well as foods that contain monosodium glutamate
    • Baked goods, chocolate, nuts, and dairy products
    • Fruits
    • Meats containing sodium nitrates, such as bacon, hot dogs, salami, and cured meats
    • Red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken liver, figs, and certain beans

    Alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, skipping meals, lack of sleep, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, exercise, and cigarette smoking may also trigger a migraine.

    How Do You Treat Migraine Aura

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    Fortunately, most aura symptoms last for a short period of time. Triptans are not usually effective during the aura phase but some people find Aspirin can be helpful. It is important to avoid any activities that you feel may be dangerous whilst your senses are somewhat impaired.

    If the aura symptoms are frequent and disturb your life significantly, there are several preventive medications that can be used to reduce the frequency and the duration of the aura attacks.

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    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.

    What About Menstrual Migraines Morning Migraines

    If youre wondering: where is Hormonal Migraine? Morning Migraine? Complex Migraine? Well, these technically arent official Migraine types anymore, according to the IHS. I asked Peter Goadsby, MD, one of the top doctors influencing IHS and AHS policies why these new terms were adopted.

    His explanation: the World Health Organization needed a common language to define all the Migraine sub-types so that doctors and patients around the world could compare notes and exchange data. That seems like a very good idea.

    If you suffer from Menstrual Migraine attacks three days before every period, you can keep calling that. Ditto for Weather-Related Migraine and Morning Migraine, the kind that wrecks your day before it even starts. As Migraine Warriors, we tend to think of the occasions when attacks occur and major symptoms to name our pain.

    Personally, I discovered after decades of suffering from Chronic Migraine without Aura that my own pain didnt start at 23, but instead at 12 with Abdominal Migraine complications and a Migralepsy seizure.

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