Migraine Vs. Headache: How To Know The Difference And When To Seek Help?

Migraine Vs. Headache: How To Know The Difference And When To Seek Help?

What is a Headache?

A headache defined as pain or illness in any area of the individual’s head. Such strains occur when pain-sensitive nerves in the blood vessels, scalp, and other brain tissues send signals that register as pain in the brain cells.

In other terms, we can describe headaches as pain being above the ears and eyes behind the head and in the back of the upper neck. Some specific definitions use the term continuous pain instead of pain, but do not specify what permanent means.

What is a Migraine Headache?

A migraine headache is severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation most often on one side of the head, which is usually accompanied by vomiting and nausea and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Patients with such pains often have specific symptoms termed an “aura” (sensory symptoms) that occur before the migraine, although some patients experience auras during and after the migraine. Many people with migraines find the pain is debilitating and interferes with daily life activities. This headache occurs more frequently in women than in men.

Just a note of caution, even if you have felt migraines and other headaches, but suddenly develop the worst problem of your life – you need to be seen by a doctor immediately. This type of pain may indicate a medical emergency other than a recurrent migraine or another headache type.

Is the Pain from Migraine Different from Another Headache Pain?

In most instances, migraine is different from other headaches since to classify as a headache as a migraine, and the problem must have at least a combination of three of five features. If your pain is 1) pulsating, 2) moderate to severe, 3) only on one side of the head, 4) nausea or vomiting, and 5) photophobia and phonophobia.

What Signs & Symptoms of Migraine vs. Headaches Are the Same?

Migraine headaches and other headaches cause discomfort or pain in the head. Some problems like migraines may lead to pulsating pain. This pain usually occurs on one side of the head or neck, some other kinds of headaches like hormonal headache and cluster headache may cause the same symptoms.

What Signs & Symptoms Make Migraine Different From Other Headaches?

Usually, but not always, migraines are preceded by an aura that most commonly is a visual band with a glittering or shimmering border that precedes the head pain and lasts about 5 minutes to 1 hour. However, migraine auras may consist of several different perceptions and vary from one to another.

These signs and symptoms are present in migraine headaches:

  • Moderate to intense pain that is throbbing and pulsating on one side of the head or neck – and often accompanied by vomiting and nausea.
  • Aura
  • Phonophobia and photophobia (sensitivity to light and sounds)
  • Physical activities may worsen the pain.

What Are the Differences Between the Causes of Migraine and Headache?

Medical experts have suggested that the cause of migraines has a robust genetic component since approx. 70% of people with this type of head pain have a relative with a history of migraines. Some experts suggest that migraines are related to or caused by blood flow changes in the brain.

Although some health experts say that tension in muscles produces other types of headaches, most now think that the specific cause of headache is unknown, and likely due to several factors such as:

  • Muscle tension in the scalp and neck
  • Stress
  • Infection and sinus congestion
  • Some headaches including headaches caused by hormones are likely related to changes in hormonal levels,
  • And other undefined factors, etc.

Difference Between the Things that Trigger Headache and Migraine?

Many things can trigger migraine and other types of headaches, including tension headaches. Here is a list of examples of substances and medical problems that may trigger headaches, including migraines.

  • Hormonal changes
  • Exposure to bright fluorescent lighting and strobe lighting or flickering
  • Trauma to the head, sleep disorders and smoking
  • Odor such as perfumes, industrial compounds, colognes
  • Red wine, meats containing nitrates, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, etc.

Triggers for other headaches and migraines are both highly variable and unique to everyone.

How Can I Tell If It Is a Migraine or Another Type of Headache?

There are no tests to diagnose a migraine headache, so the diagnosis usually based on your symptoms and history for migraine or another type of problem, including tension or cluster headaches. The international headache society criteria for the determination of migraines state that an individual must have at least five headache attacks that have lasted 4 hours to 3 days and that the headache must have had at least two of the following symptoms:

  • It has a pulsating quality to it
  • The pain is only on one side of the head (unilateral).
  • It aggravated by routine physical activity
  • It causes moderate to severe pain

In addition, people must have one of the two criteria, either vomiting and nausea or phonophobia and photophobia.

Eventually, these symptoms listed here do not occur due to any other medical condition.

What Is the Treatment for Migraines and Other Types of Headaches?

Patients who have migraine headaches can benefit from a consultation with a neurologist, neuropathologist, or neurosurgeon. People with other head pain diagnoses also may benefit from such consultation, especially for cluster headaches.

Migraine Treatment

Treatment of such headaches depends on the patient’s condition. Does the individual need treatment for an ongoing migraine headache, including moderate to extreme pain, or does he or she need to prevent therapy?

  • Treatment for an ongoing migraine is most effective if given within 15 minutes of the onset of pain. Treatment may base on the severity of illness.
  • Severe migraines may be treated with triptans and ergot alkaloid drugs such as NSAID, and a triptan may be useful.
  • A migraine with moderate pain may respond to over the counter OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, and a class of medications known as triptans.
  • People with severe or extreme headaches may need intravenous intranasal and subcutaneous injections of a triptan or ergot. Some people may require an additional opioid (narcotic) analgesic combination with a dopamine antagonist.

Treatment for Tension, Sinus, Cluster, and Hormonal Headaches

  • Cluster headache management is similar to the treatment of migraine headaches.
  • Tension headache usually can be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen.
  • Hormonal headaches usually treated with an NSAID alone or in combination with a triptan.
  • Sinus headaches. For congestion, decongestants or antihistamines can use for short periods. If you have a sinus infection and a sinus headache, you may need treatment with antibiotics.

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