Knowing Exactly Which Type Of Migraine You Have Is Essential To Finding The Most Effective Treatment
Its a fact: 60% of women and 70% of men with Migraine arent diagnosed properly. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical for the right treatment. Some medications are actually dangerous to people who actually have Migraine with Aura, for example.
According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders , there are seven different types of migraines: the two major types , the four subtypes of Migraine with aura, and Chronic Migraine. The criteria for doctors to use in diagnosing these types of Migraine are based on scientific evidence
Preventing Future Migraine Attacks
In addition to there being medication that can stop a migraine attack in progress, there are also drugs that can be taken for migraine prophylaxis, or preventive therapy, as a way to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
Preventive migraine treatments include prescription medications that were originally developed for epilepsy, depression, or high blood pressure these can often prevent future attacks, Mauskop says. They also include a newer class of drugs called CGRP antibodies that were developed specifically to treat migraine.
Women whose migraines are associated with their menstrual cycles may find relief through taking certain types of hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy, although in some cases, these options can make migraine worse, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Many people do get migraine relief from various treatments. However, if your headaches persist or they last a long time, you should seek medical help from a neurologist or headache specialist, says Mauskop. You shouldnt self-treat migraines if they are unusually long or youre having them for the first time.
Additional reporting byBeth Orenstein.
When To Call A Professional
If you have a history of migraine, you should contact your doctor if you develop headaches that differ from your usual headache or other migraine symptoms. Examples include:
- Headaches that get worse over time
- New onset of migraine in a person over age 40
- Severe headaches that start suddenly
- Headaches that worsen with exercise, sexual intercourse, coughing or sneezing
- Headaches with unusual symptoms such as passing out, loss of vision, or difficulty walking or speaking
- Headaches that start after a head injury
In addition, you may want to see your health care professional if you have headaches that do not get better with over-the-counter medications severe headaches that interrupt work or the enjoyment of daily activities or daily headaches.
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Severe Headache And Your Quality Of Life
Although a long headache may be tiring and frustrating, its likely not fatal, says Dr. Goadsby. Having an attack thats longer than a day doesnt necessarily mean anything dreadful, he says. But a headache that persists can take a real toll on your quality of life.
For example, migraineurs know that when their headache begins they may lose a day of productive work or family time. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 90 percent of migraine sufferers cant work or function during a migraine. Arranging for strategies to deal with that one day might be bearable, but being out of commission for two or even three days can be more difficult. Even the worry over an impending migraine, especially for those whose headaches are long or severe, can interfere with daily life.
Here are some possible causes for a headache that never seems to end:
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:
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 Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:
- an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.
If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.
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.
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Weakness On One Side Of The Body
When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.
Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.
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Migraine Is Much More Than Just A Headache
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
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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.
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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Tension Headache Vs Migraines
Migraines and tension headaches are considered the main form of headaches. These headaches are the primary problem and arent caused by other problems such as dehydration.
Migraines normally stay on one side of the head, usually near the temple or in the front. They can, unfortunately, last for days. The pain is caused by brain blood vessels, so migraines can cause a pounding feeling.
Sensitivity to light is common with migraines, along with certain triggers from smells and food.
Tension headaches can feel like a tightness or pressure. You dont have to worry about a smell intolerance with tension headaches. The feeling is often found on both sides of the head.
They can be caused by musculoskeletal pain spreading into the head from the jaw and neck.
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
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What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine
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.
What Makes A Migraine Different
Before we cover some of the many types of headaches out there, letâs talk about what a migraine is. The most well-known migraine symptom is a pounding, severe headache, usually starting on the left side of your head. Some other types of headaches also start on the left side, and a migraine wonât always start there, so how can you know for sure when youâre dealing with an attack?
Well, migraine symptoms typically follow a unique pattern. The scientific term for the period before the headache sets in is the âprodrome. â It can last for a few hours, or even up to a few days. During this period, itâs common to experience symptoms like:
- difficulty concentrating, speaking, or reading
- food cravings
Some migraine sufferers also have an aura within the hour before their headache. The aura can include:
- visual disturbances, like flashing lights, blind spots, geometric shapes, etc.
- sensory disturbances, like numbness, pins and needles sensations, etc.
- brainstem-related symptoms, such as vertigo, difficulty speaking, ringing ears, etc.
- retinal symptoms, usually temporary partial or total blindness in just one eye.
Once the headache strikes, the pain can last 4-72 hours and be debilitating.
Afterward, many people will be stuck recovering from a âmigraine hangover,â or, to get scientific, a âpostdrome.â The hangover can last several days and leave you nauseous, moody, thirsty or craving certain foods, unable to concentrate, and sensitive to lights and sounds.
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When To Go To The Emergency Room For A Headache Or Migraine
Headache is one of the most common reasons for an emergency room visit. Some people go due chronic headache or Migraine problems that do not go away with treatment, and in other cases, headache is a symptom of another medical problem.
The best reason for an ER visit is for unusual symptoms that are new to you. You may seek attention to make sure there is no chance of another problem such as aneurysm or meningitis. A severe headache that starts very suddenly can mean another disorder such as stroke.
New symptoms such as a fever, weakness, vision loss or double vision, or confusion are some of most concerning symptoms. If you have a new symptom and serious, life-threatening medical problems such as liver, heart or kidney disease, are pregnant, or have a disorder that affects your immune system such as HIV infection, an ER visit may be more essential.
For many patients, an ER visit for headache or Migraine happens after a long period of severe headache lasting days or weeks. After long time of experiencing severe headaches, you may reach the last straw and no longer be able to deal with the problem.
ER doctors are not specialists in headache and Migraine, and their goals are to make sure there is no serious, life-threatening problem and help reduce suffering. Different ER doctors have different ways to treat acute headaches and Migraine: there is no universal protocol for emergency treatment of headache disorders.
When going to the ER, be sure to mention:
I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle
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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Causes Of Recurrent Headaches
- Muscle Tension Headaches. Most common type of frequent headaches. Muscle tension headaches give a feeling of tightness around the head. The neck muscles also become sore and tight. Tension headaches can be caused by staying in one position for a long time. This can happen when reading or using a computer. Other children get tension headaches as a reaction to stress or worry. Examples of this are pressure for better grades or family arguments.
- Migraine Headaches. Severe, very painful headaches that keep your child from doing normal activities. They are throbbing and often occur just on one side. Symptoms have a sudden onset and offset. Vomiting or nausea is present in 80%. Lights and sound make them worse. Most children want to lie down in a dark, quiet room. Migraines most often run in the family .
- School Avoidance. Headaches that mainly occur in the morning on school days. They keep the child from going to school. The headaches are real and due to a low pain threshold.
- Rebound Headaches. Caused by overuse of pain medicines in high doses. Most often happens with OTC meds. Caffeine is present in some pain meds and may play a role. Treatment is taking pain meds at the correct dosage.
- Not Due to Needing Glasses . Poor vision and straining to see the blackboard causes eye pain. Sometimes, it also causes a muscle tension headache. But, getting glasses rarely solves a headache problem that doesn’t also have eye pain.
Could My Migraine Attack Be A Symptom Of Covid
We are still learning about migraine and COVID-19, says Spears. We do know that the COVID-19 headache usually presents differently than a typical headache. Its been described as intense pressure in the head that is made significantly worse with coughing and sneezing, he says.
Is it true that people with migraine are more likely to experience headache as a symptom of COVID-19? There isnt enough data to know if thats the case with COVID-19, but it is true in many other conditions, says Spears.
If someone has migraine and they develop a sinus infection, theyre more likely to develop a migraine-like headache. When people with migraine have anything going on thats head- or neck-related, theyre more likely to experience a migraine-like headache, he says.
This also applies in people with migraine who also have diabetes or high blood pressure, says Spears. If something is going on in the entire body or systemically, theyre more likely to manifest that in migraine-like headache if they have a history of migraine, he says.
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Neck Pain And Migraine Headache
Migraine headache, or migraine is a common disabling episodic headache characterized by throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head. More than half of the migraine population experience neck pain before and/or during a migraine attack.1–2 While in most cases neck pain in migraine is limited to the upper neck region, sometimes the pain may radiate to the lower neck and/or shoulder.
A migraine is a recurring headache that causes moderate to severe throbbing and pulsating pain on one side of the head. Other symptoms may include nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound.
Migraine is believed to be caused due to genetically modified hypersensitive neurons in the brain. These neurons are triggered by environmental changes , hormones, food, or smell and in turn trigger adjacent neurons to induce pain pathways and cause migraine symptoms.