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Is This a Migraine or a Headache?

If you've never had a migraine before but you feel a lot of pain in your head, you might not be sure if it’s a migraine or a headache. You shouldn’t have to keep guessing. Read this post so you can learn how to know if you have a migraine or a headache right now.

What Is a Headache?

A headache is a pain you feel around the region of the forehead, temples or neck. You’ll usually feel the pain in the left and right sides of your head, and it could be very severe or mild. Headaches could occur for half an hour and subside, or they could last for several days.

Headaches have been classified into three categories:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Cranial and other headaches

Some of the common types of headaches include the following.

  • Tension headache. This is the most common type of headache, and it occurs because of anxiety, stress and muscle strain.
  • Cluster headache. This is a severe headache that you feel on one side of your head. It occurs in clusters marked by periods when you feel the intense pain and times when it goes away.
  • Sinus headache. This type of headache comes up when there are symptoms of sinus infection, such as stuffy nose, cough and fever.
  • Thunderclap headache. This is an intense headache with a sharp pain that comes up within a minute or less. It could be a sign of a very serious medical condition, and it needs urgent medical attention.

Tension and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches, while sinus and thunderclap headaches are secondary.

Causes of a Headache

Tension headaches tend to occur due to physical stress placed on the body. This includes prolonged manual labor, extended periods of sitting and concentrating in front of a computer for long hours. Many times, you’ll be able to function normally with tension headaches since they’re not usually associated with vomiting, nausea or hypersensitivity to sound or light.

Secondary headaches may be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse of pain medication, flu, alcohol-induced hangover, blood clots, concussion, dehydration, brain tumor or stroke.

Ways to Treat a Headache

Your doctor will be able to offer a diagnosis based on the description you offer, the kind of pain you feel and how often the attacks take place. For complex symptoms, you may need to run series of tests such as X-rays, blood tests and brain scans.

Your doctor may recommend or prescribe general pain medication, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen, or preventive medication such as antidepressants, beta-blockers and serotonin receptor agonists.

You may also reduce the risks of having headaches by avoiding stressors such as long work hours, eating regular meals to sustain your blood sugar level, staying hydrated and doing regular exercise. Taking a warm shower can also provide a soothing effect on the head and other parts of the body. You can practice meditation, neck stretching and relaxation exercises.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is a form of headache that’s intense and accompanied by other types of symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Sensitivity to sound or light
  • Nausea
  • Pain behind an ear or eye
  • Painful sensation in the temples

Some patients experience these symptoms the day before a migraine occurs:

  • Unusual food cravings
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Frequent yawning
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Irritability

Causes of Migraines

If you experience regular migraines, you need to be aware of the common causes or triggers, including the following:

  • Allergies or allergic reactions
  • Exposure to bright light
  • Very loud noises
  • Smoky rooms
  • Flickering lights
  • Strong smells
  • Perfumes
  • Temperature changes

Other triggers include menopause, hormonal changes, consuming alcohol, using contraceptives and emotional anxiety.

Ways to Treat a Migraine

The best way to treat a migraine is to prevent it. You can do this by changing your diet and avoiding alcohol and excessive intake of caffeine. Then, take steps to minimize stress.

Infrequent migraines may be treated with medications that can reduce the painful sensation quickly. Such medicines include:

  • Moderate pain relievers like acetaminophen
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
  • Naproxen sodium
  • Aspirin
  • Triptans like almotriptan, rizatriptan or sumatriptan

You should avoid taking migraine medications frequently because they could lead to rebound headaches.

What Is the Difference Between a Migraine and a Headache?

Migraines typically affect just one side of the head. A migraine causes severe pain with a throbbing sensation. It’s possible to go on with your normal daily tasks with a headache, but a migraine will make it very difficult to do so.

Treat Your Migraines at AllBetterCare

At AllBetterCare, we offer top-rated medical treatment for people who have migraines or frequent headaches, from diagnosis to effective treatment. We also recommend the best way to prevent them from re-occurring.

If you have a persistent headache or migraine, please give us a call now at (717) 635-8292, or register online for a treatment time later. You can also walk into any of our locations and receive instant attention. We will attend to you promptly whether you have health insurance or not.