How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask a lot of questions to see what might be causing the symptoms, and will examine you, paying particular attention to the neurological exam. He or she may ask you to keep a headache diary to help figure out what triggers your headaches. The information you record will help the doctor figure out the best treatment.
Sometimes, doctors may order blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems that might cause a persons migraines.
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.
Headaches Or Migraine Attacks That Occur Following Vaccination Can Be Treated As Usual
After getting the vaccine, if a person has a headache, they can take either their regular migraine abortive drug or an over-the-counter medication to help ease any of the symptoms, says Estemalik.
There was initial concern that if you took an over-the-counter medication after your vaccine that it might make it less effective, but there isnt evidence to support that, says Strauss.
Since people can manage any headache that may come on as a side effect of the vaccine with their normal medications, I hope that takes a little of the fear away. This headache might last longer than what youre used to, but you can certainly treat it, she says.
Don’t Miss: Headache And Vomiting Treatment
Is Your Headache A Sign Of Something Serious
Most headaches are not serious, but seeking help for those that are could save your life.
Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy
I thought it was just my sinuses that hurt, Billie says. But it didnt get any better, and it was different from the headaches I usually got. My face hurt so much I didnt even want to brush my teeth. So my husband called the doctor, and he told us to come in right away. Turns out I had giant cell arteritis . If I had waited, the doctor said I might have had a stroke.
Billies story serves as a warning that sometimes a headache is more than just a headache. In fact, a headache can be an early warning sign of more complicated and serious health issues such as stroke, infection, or high blood pressure.
What Should I Do When A Migraine Begins
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:
- If you take migraine medicine, take it right away.
- Drink fluids, if you don’t have nausea during your migraine.
- Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical.
Some people find the following useful:
- A cold cloth on your head
- Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Massage or other relaxation exercises
Read Also: Why Does Caffeine Help Migraines
How Do I Know Which Type Of Headache I Have
While some headaches have unique features that make them easy to diagnose, most headaches arent that straightforward.
If you regularly get headaches at night and youre not sure why, it may be worth making an appointment with your doctor. They can help you narrow down the type of headache you have or rule out any underlying conditions that might be causing them.
To do this, theyll likely ask you a series of questions. These might be about:
Keeping these questions in mind, prepare a headache diary for your doctor. For about two weeks prior to your appointment, document every headache you have. Make sure to include all the details about pain characteristics, timing, triggers, and so on.
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.
Are Headaches And Migraines More Common In Summer
If you are unlucky enough to suffer with chronic headaches or migraines, you might find they worsen or become more frequent in summer. And you wouldnt be alone: light, temperature and humidity are potential triggers, so its no surprise that when they begin to increase during the summer months, so can the prevalence of headache and migraine.
Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
28-Aug-20·4 mins read
Many people think of migraine as just a bad headache. While its true that the main symptom is usually headache, migraine is in fact a complex condition that manifests in a range of symptoms. Common ones are vision problems, increased sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, nausea, and vomiting and attacks can last up to three days.
Thats not to say that headaches on their own arent problematic. They are one of the most common reasons people visit their GP or are referred to a neurology specialist, although there is usually no worrying cause.
Alongside migraine, tension headache marked by pain in a band across the forehead and often associated with tense muscles in the back of the neck is by far the most predominant type.
Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
Don’t Miss: Cream Of Tartar Migraine
Why Do Migraines Happen
As for the other questions, migraines happen for a reason. Many migraine headaches, as discussed so many places elsewhere on our website, happen because of nerve entrapment and irritation from adjacent structures. Remember, these nerves that so often cause migraines are in the face and neck, NOT the brain itself. But why are your nerves irritated?
There are several reasons why these peripheral nerves can be irritated and can be traced down to a specific reason:
Other Sleep And Migraine Correlations:
One interestinglink to the occurrence of nocturnal migraines was drug withdrawal .
Other studies have found correlations between nocturnal migraines and diseases and disorders such as:
- temporal arteritis
- subacute angle-closure glaucoma
- vascular lesions
If your migraine frequently happen at night or wake you up, be sure to discuss that detail with your doctor so that they can rule out other conditions.
Also Check: Faking A Migraine
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider it chronic fatigue syndrome when the tiredness is:
- Not due to activity
- A relatively new symptom and not a lifelong condition
- Causes a significant reduction in previous levels of activities2
For a diagnosis of CFS, three main symptoms must be present, including:2
- Significantly lower ability to do activities that were easily done before the illness for 6 months or longer
- Worsening of CFS symptoms after physical or mental activity that would have typically not caused symptoms before the illness
- Sleep disturbances
At least 1 of 2 other symptoms must be present as well: either memory/cognitive problems or a worsening of symptoms when standing up.2
Many health conditions may cause fatigue. It is estimated that 67 percent of people living with migraine also meet the criteria for CFS.3 The overlap of symptoms is something to keep in mind. When it strikes as a symptom of a migraine attack, it can make it very difficult to perform normal activities. Often, fatigue does not go away with the pain. The person living with migraine may experience fatigue for days following a migraine episode.
Can I Have A Visual Migraine Without A Headache
Definitely. It is actually very common to have a visual migraine without any headache. The medical term for this is acephalgic migraine, which literally means migraine symptoms without headache. Except for the absence of a headache, the visual symptoms in acephalgic migraine are identical to the episodes that accompany a classic migraine aura.
Don’t Miss: Natural Remedies For Vestibular Migraines
Youre Dealing With Hormonal Issues Like Menstruation
Thanks to the drop in estrogen right before menstruation, many people experience PMS-related headaches. In fact, menstruation is one of the biggest migraine triggers for people who have periods.
But its not the only time a change in estrogen levels can cause a headacheboth perimenopause and postpartum periods are marked by a significant drop in estrogen, and as a result, often come with headaches. Pregnancy, too, affects estrogen levels, so you may notice that your headaches worsen during this time, the Mayo Clinic says. Any time of hormonal change is a vulnerable time for headaches, Dr. Hutchinson says.
Fix it: If you notice that your headaches appear to be cyclical and coincide with your period, its worth bringing this up with your doctor, who may suggest going on hormonal birth control or switching your current birth control.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, hormonal birth control can have an effect on your headache patterns and for some people, hormonal contraception may make headaches less frequent and intense because they reduce the drop in estrogen that happens during your menstrual cycle.
For short-term headache relief around your period, typical headache remedies can help, like using ice or a cold compress, practicing relaxation techniques, or taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication.
You Drink Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine causes vasoconstriction in your blood vessels, meaning they get a little narrower. If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks every day, your body gets used to it, Dr. Hutchinson explains. So when you skip it one day, your blood vessels dont become constricted and can make your head hurt. It becomes a vicious cycle, slugging back a mug to find relief, and just further deepening your need for caffeine. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says that adults can safely consume up to 400 milliliters of caffeine per day , butkeeping in mind that everyones tolerance is differentafter that, your body might begin to rebel.
Fix it:Its unrealistic to tell all headache patients to avoid caffeine, Dr. Hutchinson says. Instead, she recommends moderationa maximum of two caffeinated drinks in one dayto avoid that withdrawal headache when you go without.
Don’t Miss: Non Drowsy Headache Medicine
When Should You Be Concerned About Migraines
The following headache symptoms mean you should get medical help right away: A sudden, new, severe headache that comes with: Weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, or cant move your body. Trouble with speech, confusion, seizures, personality changes, or inappropriate behavior.
How Do I Get Immediate Relief From A Headache
No medication can take away the pain of a migraine attack or headache 100 percent of the time, but there are many effective treatment options. Talk with your doctor about which therapy will safely relieve your pain as quickly as possible so that you can return to work and the activities you enjoy.
- Analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can provide short-term relief for tension headaches and migraine pain, and they usually dont require a prescription. These include medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen , and acetaminophen . While they are generally safe to use to treat short, acute headaches, they should not be taken for chronic pain without discussing their use with your healthcare team.
- Triptans are a class of prescriptions drugs that were developed to treat acute migraine. If you feel a migraine attack coming on, these drugs will be more effective if you take them early while the pain is still moderate, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
- Gepants and ditans are new kinds of acute migraine medications that target very specific receptors on sensory nerves.
- Integrative and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, physical therapy, mind-body approaches like mindfulness, and certain supplements have various degrees of evidence and safety profiles supporting their use for the management of tension headaches and migraine symptoms.
Read Also: How Does Elavil Work For Migraines
You May Like: Medication For Migraines List
Light Sensitivity And Headaches
During a headache or migraine, you may be very sensitive to light, especially bright and flashing ones. Research shows that slow, flickering lights are more irritating than rapid ones. To avoid headaches caused by flickering light, try using anti-glare screens on computer monitors and daylight spectrum florescent bulbs.
How Long Is Too Long For A Migraine
How long is too long for a migraine? A typical migraine lasts between four and 72 hours. If a migraine lasts longer than 72 hours, it is paramount to consult with a doctor. Also, if a person experiences 15 or more headache days per month, a doctor may diagnose this individual with chronic migraines.
You May Like: Excedrin Pm Shortage
Also Check: Can You Get A Fever With A Migraine
What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:
Eat regularly and do not skip meals.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can help reduce tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
- Keep a migraine journal to help you learn what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.
When Your Everyday Headaches Mean You Need A Doctor
If youre unable to treat your constant headache issues on your own, see your doctor. Alternative treatments are tempting, but in severe circumstances, medical intervention is absolutely essential.
Treatment options include abortive drugs that you take as needed, just as you would with an over-the-counter drug, Mauskop says. There are things like Imitrex and similar drugs in that category.What about migraines? A 2014 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that Botoxyes, that Botoxreduced the number of headache and migraine days, and increased the number of headache free days while significantly improving patients quality of life.
If youre skeptical about Botox, Mauskop says that patients will soon have other options. Theres a new category of drugs coming out this summer that have been subjected to all of the phases of testing, he says. Theyre called monoclonal antibodies, and they bind to a chemical that releases the headaches for up to three months.
Monoclonal antibodies have been hailed as a breakthrough migraine therapy, and theyre part of a new class of immunotherapy treatments.
If youre truly suffering from headaches every day, doctors have a variety of ways to help patients treat severe daily headaches. If youve tried meditation, exercise, and supplementation, and even OTC pain meds arent doing a thing, get to the doctor its worth getting checked out.
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
- 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.