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How To Tell The Difference Between Headache And Migraine

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The Location Type And Severity Of The Pain

The difference between a migraine and headaches

Tension headaches are typically on both sides of the head, and the pain feels like its pressing or tightening, says Seng. Headache pain is usually classified as moderate in severity, she adds.

However, during a migraine attack, the head pain is typically on one side of the head and is pounding or pulsing, says Seng. Migraine pain is usually classified as moderate to severe and gets worse with even little physical activity, such as simply climbing up the stairs.

Migraines Have More Specific Locations

The eyes have it! As Dr. Khorsandi explained, “Migraines are usually located behind the eye.” Indeed, my eyes almost always feel like ticking bombs during my worst migraines and I don’t want to use my peepers for anything, hence why I prefer to curl up in a fetal position in both darkness and silence.

When Its Probably A Headache

Headaches are extremely common almost everyone experiences them from time to time. The source of your head pain may be difficult to pinpoint, but some common sources include weather changes and a lack of caffeine . A headache may be your bodys way of telling you theres something off, such as hunger, stress, fatigue or exhaustion. Some foods and medications can also cause headaches.

A tension headache typically lasts for hours, does not include other symptoms and presents with mild to moderate pain, usually across the forehead or back of your head. Many people describe a tension headache as a dull, squeezing pain. A sinus headache is also typically mild to moderate pressure-like pain that lasts for a few hours, but this type of head pain is focused across your nose and cheeks, and commonly includes other sinus-related symptoms.

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What Is Migraine Or A Cluster Headache

Although migraines and cluster headaches both cause severe pain in the head around the forehead, temples or sinuses, they typically feel and act differently.

A migraine is severe pain or throbbing, typically on one side of the head.

Cluster headaches are painful headaches that are shorter in duration but recur over a period of a few months and are followed by a period of remission up to a few years. People who suffer from cluster headaches tend to get them during the same season each year.

A migraine is a common condition that affects more than 37 million Americans, while cluster headaches are rarer and only affect approximately 1 million people.

Migraine Headaches Are Not Related To A Separate Medical Condition

Headache Vs Migraine

There are more than 300 types of headaches. Experts divide headaches into two categories based on what causes them.

Headaches resulting from a medical condition are called secondary headaches. Primary headaches are unrelated to a medical issue and result from an underlying process in the brain. Types of primary headaches include:

  • Cluster headaches, rare and severe headaches occurring up to eight times daily that cause pain on one side of the head or behind one eye
  • Migraine headaches, debilitating pain that can be chronic, occurring 15 or more days a month
  • Tension headaches, common headaches producing dull, squeezing pain on both sides of the head, often caused by fatigue, stress or muscle tightness

While migraine headaches and some secondary headaches may present with similar symptoms, if there is an underlying medical condition, the headache is likely not a migraine.

Read Also: Type Of Headache By Location

How Do You Know If You’re Having A Migraine Or A Headache

Blog post | 11 Mar 2019

Headaches are, unfortunately, a part of life. They can be triggered by many things, from hot dogs and ice cream to swimming goggles. Nine out of 10 people have had a headache.

While they are are less common, it’s estimated that almost 5 million Australians experience migraines. Due to hormonal factors, migraines are believed to affect more women than men, and migraines typically run in families.

Migraine Attacks And Episodes

A migraine is different from a headache as it not only represents a painful head pain, the head will throb as well. This type of discomfort can last from several hours to several days. While migraine pain usually affects one side of a persons head, it can affect both sides of the head as well.

Migraines may result from hormonal imbalances, excessive stress or anxiety, or develop from sensory stimuli. Strong odors, such as paint thinners, or sensitivity to sound or light can trigger a migraine attack.

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Can You Tell The Difference Between Headache And Migraine

The sharp, throbbing ache you feel in your head

The one that stops you from focusing, the one that keeps you up at night.

Thats your body telling you you have a migraineor is it a headache.

Knowing the difference between headache and migraine is crucial because it changes what you can do to reduce or even get rid of the problem.

What Is A ‘migraine With Aura’

Sinus Headache vs Migraine

There are 2 types of migraine: migraine with aura, and without aura.

It might sound a bit paranormal, but migraine with aura is very real. Some people see flashing lights or a change in their vision some having trouble speaking, and some feel ‘pins and needles’ in their arms and legs. This can happen before or during a migraine attack.

Even if you get auras, you may not experience one with every migraine. The aura itself usually lasts less than an hour. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why it happens.

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What Are The Most Common Types Of Headaches

The most common type of headache is considered by the International Headache Society to be a tension headache . There are over 22 types of headaches that have been described. Many are common . However, this article will be limited to migraine, tension, cluster, sinus, and hormonal headaches as these are common types.

  • Tension headaches: A tension headache is characterized by mild to moderate chronic headache pain, often with a band-like tightness discomfort or pain on both sides of the head.
  • Cluster headaches: A cluster headache produces pain on only one side of the head . The pain is excruciating with stabbing pain in the head and eye. It has been described as feeling as if the eyes are being pushed out. Cluster headaches are not preceded by an aura, and usually do not have symptoms of nausea, vomiting or aversion to light and sound.
  • Sinus headaches: A sinus headache is a type of headache usually is caused by an infection of the facial sinuses and/or sinus congestion. A sinus headache is mild to moderate head pain, and has symptoms of throbbing head pain, and/or pain produced around the facial sinuses, eyes, cheeks, and forehead, usually occurring with an infection of a facial sinus and/or sinus congestion.
  • Hormonal headaches: Hormonal headaches are headaches that can resemble either migraines or tension headaches, but occur during hormonal changes in women during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and/or menopause.
  • Headache And Migraine Are Different Conditions With Different Treatments

    Although there is no cure for headache or migraine, many people can manage symptoms and prevent future attacks with medication and lifestyle changes. If you experience frequent or severe headaches, visiting a headache specialist can help you get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

    How to prepare for your visit with a headache specialist

    To help you and your healthcare clinician understand your condition, it may be helpful to keep a diary and track when your headaches start, how long they last, how severe they are, and what helps to relieve your symptoms. It may also be beneficial to track where you were and what you were doing when the attacks starts.

    What to expect when you visit a headache specialist

    At Nuvance Health, our headache specialists will ask you many questions to get a detailed history about your symptoms. Depending on your answers, your headache specialist may perform a physical exam and order additional testing. You and your headache specialist will work together to develop a care plan that meets your concerns and needs, and most importantly, helps you feel better!

    How is headache treated?

    Headache treatment depends on the type of headache. Treatment may include different types of medications depending on patient preference and other medical conditions. The goal of treatment is to decrease frequency, severity and duration of headache attacks.

    Migraine is treated in two ways: prevention and rescue treatment

    Migraine prevention

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    How To Tell The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

    There are really, really bad headaches and then there are migraines. As a lifelong migraine sufferer, I know a migraine is in my future because my body gives me advance warning in the form of a dull headache the day before and bouts of blurred vision, which are known as “aura.”

    According to Dr. Vernon Williams, a neurologist and director of the Kerlan-Jobe Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, “Headaches and migraines are caused when the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves in the head are overstimulated. When these pain-sensitive structures become overactive, or when chemical activity in the brain is altered, we feel the uncomfortable sensations of a headache.”

    So, what differentiates a common headache from a migraine? There are some very specific things that make migraines … migraines. Additionally, if you think you may suffer from migraines, you can take this migraine quiz and then seek the opinion and advice of a professional.

    What Are Tension Headaches

    Difference Between Headaches And Migraines

    A tension headache can also be referred to as a stress headache you may be more likely to feel this if you are in physical or mental distress. Most people experiencing a stress or tension headache say that it hurts on both sides of the head and that the pain is a dull pressure. There may also be tightness in the neck and shoulders. Over the counter pain relievers often reduce or eliminate the pain associated with tension headaches. This type of pain often lasts for a few hours but can last days, and may recur during times of stress. An underlying condition could also be to blame, so if your tension headaches continue, you should seek out medical help.

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    Risk Factors For Migraines Or Cluster Headaches

    Risk factors vary depending on if it is a cluster headache or migraine.

    Migraine risk factors

    • Age migraines seem to start in adolescence and peak in a persons 30s
    • Gender women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines
    • Family history if a family member suffers from migraines, you are also at higher risk of developing them
    • Hormonal changes some women experience migraines right before menstruation when hormone levels are high

    Cluster headache risk factors

    • Gender men are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches
    • Age most people develop cluster headaches between 20 and 50 years old
    • Smoking if you are a smoker, you are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches

    Telling The Difference Between Headache Types: Migraines Cluster And Tension Headaches

    Learning more about the different types of headaches can help you take the right steps to resolve the pain you are feeling and to know when to seek out medical help. There are key differences between the different types of headaches, from the location of the pain to the duration and type of pain you are feeling. Some headaches resolve easily with ibuprofen or another NSAID that is available over the counter, while others require medical intervention or a prescription remedy. Learning about the ways different headaches feel, can help you determine what your best course of action is.

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    Sinus Headache Vs Migraine

    Pain with a runny or stuffy nose is the typical symptom of a sinus headache. But did you know that a migraine can also cause these symptoms? The difference is in the color of your mucus:

    • If your mucus is clear and runny, it could be a migraine.
    • Sinus headaches can be a sign of a sinus infection that causes your mucus to thicken and sometimes turn a yellowish color.

    Are Sinus Headaches And Migraines Related

    Neurologists Debunk 11 Headache And Migraine Myths | Debunked

    People who often have allergies with a runny nose are 10 times more likely to have migraines. Asthma and migraine also share some of the same triggers.

    So, do sinus and breathing problemscause migraines? Probably not, but it seems these conditions could be related somehow. If you want relief, you’ll need the right diagnosis and, if you have more than one condition, to consider treatment for each separately, even when they’re happening at the same time.

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    Sinus Headaches Are Often Misdiagnosed Migraines

    Dr. Cooper also notes that “most ‘sinus headaches’ that are bad enough to take you to a doctor’s office are actually migraines. They just feel like a sinus headache because of where the pain is and how sick you feel.”

    So don’t self-diagnose or misdiagnose your migraine as a sinus headache. The analysis is best left to a professional.

    Secondary Causes Of Headaches

    Injuries and medical conditions can also lead to headaches. Before diagnosing a primary headache disorder, doctors work to rule out dangerous causes that could lead to serious complications.

    A Chiari headache is caused by a congenital Chiari malformation. This extremely rare condition causes the skull to push against parts of the brain, often causing pain in the back of the head.

    • Black people: 14.45%
    • Asian people: 9.2%

    Migraine episodes are typically divided into two categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura. An aura refers to sensations a person experiences before a migraine episode. The sensations typically occur anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before a migraine attack. These can include:

    • feeling less mentally alert or having trouble thinking
    • seeing flashing lights or unusual lines
    • feeling tingling or numbness in the face or hands
    • having an unusual sense of smell, taste, or touch

    Some people who have migraine may experience symptoms a day or two before the actual migraine episode occurs. Known as the prodrome phase, these subtler symptoms can include:

    more likely to have a migraine disorder . Its believed that a lack of sleep can trigger migraine attacks or make them worse.

    While the research is still ongoing, it appears that sleep may play a role in migraine prevention. A 2018 review of studies found that people who experience migraine attacks often report sleep as an effective therapy for migraine.

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    Migraines Can Interrupt Daily Life

    While an intense headache is annoying and disruptive, a migraine can interrupt the sufferer’s daily life, incapacitating them and grinding their usual routines to a halt. “With migraine, sufferers may have difficulty performing their regular daily activities and typically prefer to rest in a dark and quiet area,” said Dr. Grosberg.

    “This is in contrast to the most common type of ‘regular’ headache that people experience which is tension-type headache. This type of headache can last from 30 minutes to one week and often affects both sides of the head in a ‘band-like’ distribution. The pain may be a pressure or ache, mild to moderate in intensity, and is not associated with light and sound sensitivity or nausea. With tension-type headache, people can often function during their daily activities.”

    Morgan furthered, “Many people with migraines cannot function during an episode whereas with other headaches, you can rally and get through your day.”

    How Migraine Changes Everyday Life

    Migraine Vs Tension Headaches

    Your migraine experience may vary compared to someone elseâs. The attacks might last a few hours or days. You could have many in a month or one every now and then. Plus, the issues that can come with it may not all affect you.

    Some people find prevention or treatment strategies that allow them to get through everyday tasks. Others have a tougher time and they need to pause daily life for rest or sleep in a dark, quiet space. You may not make it to work or school. If you do, your performance or schoolwork can suffer. Migraines can also dim quality time with friends and family. All of this can lead to feeling depressed.

    Migraines may not always be part of your life, though. They usually get better as time goes on. Once you are past your 30s, they usually happen less often and arenât as intense. They may even go away after 50.

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    What’s The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

    A tension-type headache, the most common type of headache, causes pain on both sides of the head. It’s a tight pressure rather than a throbbing, and you might also have soreness in your temples, neck and shoulder muscles. Headache pain isn’t usually considered ‘severe’.

    Migraine, on the other hand, has many symptoms including headache. This can feel like a throbbing pain that might be worse on one side of your head. You can also feel pain around your eyes, temples, face, jaw or neck. The pain may increase with physical activity, which is why it helps to lie down.

    But the key difference between a headache and migraine? Migraines can be distressing and debilitating and can affect your whole body. People can feel vaguely unwell for a day or two before a migraine headache comes on . Once it has started, a migraine headache can last for between 4 hours and several days.

    “Migraine is a chronic disorder of the brain with recurrent severe attacks… other common features are nausea or even vomiting,” explains Assistant Professor of Neurology Yulia Orlova on The Conversation. “Many people have sensitivity to light, odours or sounds and are unable to carry on daily activity.”

    Migraine is ranked the sixth most disabling disease in the world. Global Burden of Disease

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