Headache or Migraine?

Headache or Migraine?

by Stephanie Meadows

Oh no! Your head hurts again! The first step in preventing your frequent headaches or migraines is to determine what type you may be battling. Sometimes headaches or migraines are a symptom of another disease or condition; or sometimes there may be no clear cause of your discomfort.

When there is pressure or pain in your head, it can be so agonizing that you just don’t know what to do with yourself. The question to ask is do you know what is causing it, or what the pain you are feeling actually is? It can be difficult to tell whether you are experiencing a typical headache or a migraine. Recognizing a migraine headache from a traditional headache, and vice versa, is important. So, how can you tell the difference between a common headache and a migraine?

Here is your guide to knowing your diagnosis, as it can mean faster relief through better treatments, and can also help prevent future headaches or migraines from occurring in the first place.

What is a Headache?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common headache type is a tension headache. Other types of headaches include cluster and sinus. Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. They can range from mild to severe pain and usually occur on both sides of your head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck.  A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. Headaches are often caused by stress, lack of sleep, hunger, muscle strain, or anxiety. Headaches can be chronic or episodic. Symptoms associated with a headache include:

  •  Dull, aching head pain
  •  Sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head
  • Tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles

What is a migraine?

Migraine headaches will typically affect only one side of the head. However, it is possible to have a migraine headache that affects both sides of the head. Other differences include the severity of pain:  A migraine headache will cause intense pain that may be throbbing and can make performing daily tasks very difficult. These headaches are intense or severe and often have accompanying symptoms in addition to head pain. Symptoms associated with a migraine headache include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  •  Pain behind one eye or ear
  •  Pain in the temples
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Temporary vision loss

Migraines can also be a sign of something more serious, so if you feel you have the symptoms of a migraine, it’s very important to contact a healthcare professional.  If you think you may be suffering from headaches or migraines, contact Colonial Healthcare at (803) 773-5227 to request an appointment, and get the pain under control.