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The Differences Between Headaches and Migraines

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Oct 22, 2013 7:00:00 AM
Everyone has had a headache at some point, but it can be hard to tell the difference between a bad headache and a migraine. Tension headaches are often similar to migraines, but they have a few characteristics and treatment options that make them different. If you are suffering from a very bad headache, here are some tips to help you determine whether it is a tension headache or a migraine.

What is a Tension Headache?

If you have muscle tightness in the forehead, scalp or neck, then these headache symptoms may mean you are suffering from a tension headache. The pain may be located in the back of the head, and its onset may be caused by worrying, stress or anxiety. Tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days, but they do not cause vomiting, nausea or sensitivity to light and sound. If you suffer from a tension headache, you may have trouble sleeping and eating, and your ability to concentrate may be limited. A tension headache is often treated with over-the-counter medication and rest. Once you have regained your energy and strength, your headache may be gone.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a severe headache that is usually located behind the eye or on one side of the head, and some migraine sufferers report seeing an aura before the onset of the migraine. The pain is deep and throbbing, and it may get worse when you try to continue your normal activities. There are many different triggers that may cause the severe headache, including certain foods, stress, fragrances, weather changes and hormones. You may experience sensitivity to light and sound while you have a migraine, as well as vomiting and nausea. Migraines may last a few hours, but they can also last for several days. If taken immediately, over-the-counter medication may alleviate the pain, but prescribed medications are often required to relieve severe migraine symptoms.

Diagnosing a Headache

If you have had trouble determining which type of headache you are experiencing, then you need to talk to your doctor. Before your visit, keep a headache journal that outlines the time that your headache starts, what you were doing, what you ate beforehand and when the headache ends. You should also write down any techniques or strategies that seemed to help you cope with your pain. Your doctor may want to perform some tests and scans to eliminate any physical problems that may cause severe headaches. These tests may include lab work, a CT scan or MRI.

In order to combat your headaches, you need to determine the type of headache you are having. You can then create a prevention and treatment program that will help you live your life to the fullest.

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Topics: Migraine

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