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How To Differentiate Between Migraine And Headache?

Dr. Tariq Tramboo 89% (78 ratings)
Pain Management, MD - Pain Medicine & Anesthesiology
Pain Management Specialist, Srinagar  •  16 years experience
How To Differentiate Between Migraine And Headache?

When you feel pain or pressure in your head, it may become difficult for you to assess whether you are experiencing a common headache or a migraine. Let's understand how different they are from each other.

A typical headache usually affects both sides of your head and varies from a mild to moderate pain. It can last from 30 minutes to up to a period of one week.

Some specific areas which get affected by a headache are:

  •   Temples
  •   Forehead
  •   Back of your neck

Factors that trigger this headache type are a muscle strain, stress or anxiety.

A migraine, on the other hand, is also a type of a headache which results in an acute throbbing sensation in one part of your head. Usually, migraine headaches are highly painful. Migraine pain makes it difficult for a person to carry out his/her daily tasks. Symptoms or signs associated with migraine attacks are:

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

What are the common causes of a migraine?

  •   Hormonal imbalances in women - fluctuations in oestrogen, especially during menopause or pregnancy seem to trigger a migraine
  •   Drinks like wine and extremely caffeinated beverages
  •   Foods such as salty foods, aged cheese as well as processed foods can trigger the migraine attack.
  •   Medications - vasodilators such as nitroglycerine and oral contraceptives can intensify migraine pain.

How to treat a headache?

Fortunately, you can get rid of stress-induced headaches through over-the-counter treatments, which include:

How to treat a migraine?

If you experience migraine attacks less frequently, these medicines may give you quick relief:

Some preventive tips:

  •   Make changes in your diet such as avoid such foods, including caffeine and alcohol which are believed to trigger headaches.
  •   You can also try muscle relaxation exercises, yoga or meditation to ease the migraine attack. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a pain management specialist.
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