Migraine, a neurological disorder that can last a lifetime, is characterized by frequent severe to moderate headaches. It usually affects one side of the head. Headache can refer to a range of pain symptoms originating from different parts of the head.
It can be hard to determine if you are experiencing a headache or a migraine when there is pressure or Pain in the head.
It is crucial to distinguish between Migraine and other headache disorders. This can lead to faster relief by using more specific treatments depending on the type and severity of the headache. This can help to prevent future headaches.
How can you distinguish between a headache and a migraine attack from a common headache?
What’s a Headache?
Headaches can be unpleasant, causing pressure and aching in the head. Headaches can occur on either side of the head and range from mild to severe. The following are some areas where headaches may occur:
- Back of the neck
The typical headache lasts between 5 and 4 hours. Some migraine episodes can last for days or even longer.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO)Trusted Source, tension headache is the most common type. This headache type can be triggered by:
Common Headaches: Types and Causes
There are many types of headaches. Knowing the exact location and the nature of the Pain can help you determine what is causing it.
The most popular types are:
- Tension headaches Pain from tension headaches can spread to both sides of your head. It often starts at the back and moves forward. This is the most common type of headache pain. Tension headaches can occur from stress, eye strain, or hunger and can become chronic.
- Sinus headaches These headaches can often occur when you are sick or feel congested. These headaches are caused by swelling of the sinus passages. This causes Pain behind your nose, cheeks, and eyes. It is common to feel the worst Pain when you get up in the morning or bend forward.
- Cluster headaches can be very severe and often occur in “clusters,” meaning they are experienced daily, sometimes at the exact moment, for several months. Headaches are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the brain due to the release of serotonin or histamines. These can be caused by exertion, bright light, and even altitude.
What is a migraine?
Most people associate migraines with severe headaches. However, headaches are not the only symptom of migraines. They can also be severe and long-lasting.
Brockman explains that migraines are neurological disorders affecting nerve pathways and chemicals.
Changes in brain activity can cause a variety of symptoms. Migraine sufferers can experience severe headaches, as well as some or all the following symptoms:
Although migraine episodes can occur in any four phases, not everyone experiences each. These are the phases:
- Pre-headache phase: This stage is sometimes called the “pre-headache” phase. It involves symptoms that are not painful and can last for hours or days before the Migraine strikes. These symptoms include mood swings, cravings for food, and stiffness in the neck.
- Aura phase. Auras are sensory disturbances that can occur either before or after a migraine. Auras can impact a person’s vision and touch. However, not all migraine sufferers experience auras. Auras can include blurred visions and blind spots that grow over time.
- Headache phase: This stage is where the Pain typically hits and can range from mild to severe. The Pain may be worsened by physical activity or exposure to light, sound, and smells. Some people may not experience a migraine.
- After-dermal phase: This is the final phase after the Pain has subsided. During this phase, people may feel tired, confused, or otherwise unwell.
Although headaches can usually be traced back to a specific cause, migraines are more common than others. You may experience migraines if you are suffering from them.
Triggers can vary from one person to another and include:
- Gender and hormonal changes: Migraines are three times more common in women than men. Brockman states that hormonal changes and menstrual cycles cause migraines in women.
- Allergies Also known as allergic rhinitis or allergy dermatitis, allergies can cause inflammation and irritation in the body. Some people are allergic to migraines, which can be caused by inflammation of blood vessels.
- Genetics and family history: Migraines are more common in people with migraine-prone relatives. Scientists discovered that the most common type of Migraine is.
- Environment: This category covers a variety of triggers like changes in the weather, stress, food, and lack of sleep.
Treatments for Headaches and Migraines
Although there is no cure for migraines or headaches, lifestyle and medication changes can help to manage your symptoms and prevent future episodes.
Brockman says that OTC pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be helpful for mild migraines and headaches. “Excedrin(r), Migraine is another great OTC option that works for my patients. It also contains caffeine.
A 2017 study found that melatonin may help prevent migraines and cluster headaches. The proper dosage will vary depending on the individual and condition. Talk to your doctor about this treatment.
OTC remedies may not be sufficient to treat severe or moderate migraines. Prescription medication can help to reduce migraine severity and prevent future attacks. Some medications include:
- Beta-blockers are blood pressure medications.
- Anti-seizure medicines
- Botulinum toxin A (Botox) injections
Lifestyle changes can also help prevent migraines and headaches. These include:
- Exercising regularly
- Make dietary adjustments to avoid trigger foods.
- Improve your sleep habits
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can be practiced.
Brockman says keeping a headache or migraine journal can help you track patterns and identify triggers. Keep track of the time and date your Migraine or headache started, the activities and surroundings before you felt the Pain and the duration.