You have a headache. Or do you? How can you tell whether it’s “just” a headache or if it might be migraine? Let’s take a look at the symptoms to help you decide. imigran
For our purposes we can define a headache as pain felt in any region of the head but usually at the back of the head and neck or at the front of the head over the eyes. A migraine, however, is most often confined to one side of the head or the other, usually in the area around the temples.
There is also a major difference in the intensity of the pain that is experienced during a headache compared with that of a migraine attack. Whilst simple headaches can be very painful, they are usually bearable and, in most cases, the pain can be relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers. Migraines are another story. The pain that accompanies a migraine is extremely intense, often becoming quite debilitating. It is also hardly affected at all by non-prescription medicines.
Another classic migraine symptom that will help you decide if you have migraine or a simple headache is the duration of the pain. Headaches usually last for just an hour or two. A definition of migraine is that the pain lasts for at least four hours and can continue, largely unabated, for up to seventy-two hours.
Another major difference between a headache and a migraine is the presence of other symptoms. Most normal headaches don’t have any other symptoms apart from the pain although sometimes this can make some people feel a little nauseous. Migraines, on the other hand, can be associated with a number of highly unpleasant symptoms in addition to the intense pain. These include:
1. An elevated sensitivity to light and sound.
2. Visual disturbances such as flashing lights, seeing zig zag or wavy lines, blurred vision.
3. Nausea and vomiting.
4. Numbness around the lips or cheeks (similar to the feeling after a pain-killing injection from your dentist.)
5. Tingling of the fingers and toes.
Not every migraine sufferer will experience all of these additional symptoms but most will have at least one of them.
We have discussed the differences that exist between a headache and a classic migraine attack but have only briefly touched on ways to alleviate or eliminate them completely. There is a wide range of medication available to treat both conditions but many people are turning to natural ways to obtain migraine relief, fearful of the possible side effects of many medicines.