Are you confused between migraine vs headache? Here's what I experienced...
About 20 years ago I had an experience that I don’t wish on anyone, however if you’re paying attention to this episode this is probably something that happened to you or you experienced or you know someone who’s experienced this at some point in their lives.
It happened to me one day as I was lifting weights I felt like I was lifting pretty hard and heavy. And then it felt like something just completely took over my head. I had to stop lifting because the first thing that happened was it literally felt like I was going blind. Something was taking over my eyes and a film and cover than that I just couldn’t see and then my head started to pound I can do anything but sit there and wait for it to go away, but it didn’t.
When I was a 19-year-old kid, I had no idea about how my body really worked calling you is that I felt like my head was going to explode. Then later on, I found out that I was experiencing what they call exertion migraines. I think at that point I thought a migraine was just a really bad headache but there clearly is a difference.
So let’s go ahead and talk about some of those differences.
For purposes today because there are so many types of headaches and migraines we’re going to be talking about the most common to talk about the differences between a tension headache, which is the most common headache, and a classical migraine, which is by far the most common so let’s go ahead and talk about some of those differences.
Migraine vs Headache
A tension headache gives the patient a feeling that an elastic band is squeezing his or her head. The headache is caused by the contraction of muscles between the head and neck. The dull pain, experienced across the head, is usually mild to moderate, although it can, in extreme cases, last for days. It more commonly lasts half an hour to a few hours.
A migraine, in comparison, tends to range from moderate to very severe throbbing pain at the front or the side of the head. It can be unrelenting and carry on for days and is accompanied by other symptoms sometimes described as the ‘aura’.
Knowing more about 'aura'
That fuzzy feeling of mine as I was mentioning before where I thought I was going blind, that was the aura.
In addition to severe head pain, migraine sufferers may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
So, here we go. Let’s talk about six specific areas where there’s a difference between a headache and a migraine.
- 6Treatments that work
While both headache and migraine feature pain, the intensity level of a migraine headache is much higher than that of a regular headache. In fact, pain feels as if it is coming from inside the skull and is often accompanied by throbbing in the temples or pain behind the eyes.
Tension and cluster headaches typically resolve within a few hours. Migraine pain can last for days at a time.
Headaches usually have one symptom: pain. Migraine headaches come with a variety of symptoms that can include some or all of the following:
- 1Photosensitivity: Light is unbearable and increases the pain.
- 2Environmental sensitivity: Just as with light, sounds and smells in the environment can intensify pain.
- 3Dizziness: A migraine can feel very disorienting, both mentally and physically.
- 4Nausea: Whether due to dizziness or prompted by photosensitivity, nausea and vomiting often.
Those who suffer from migraine vs. headache will also notice that their migraine symptoms follow certain phases. These migraine phases typically include:
The prodromal phase serves as a warning that pain is imminent. Migraine sufferers may experience mood swings, lethargy, and an increased need to use the bathroom.
Aura is not present for everyone who suffers from migraine. An aura can include a glow around figures and shapes or wavy lines. This is a neurological event that can occur 20 to 60 minutes before pain.
The attack phase is when pain hits.
The final phase is the postdromal phase when the pain has subsided. Sufferers may be exhausted but may also feel mildly elated.
Tension and cluster headaches in general can have easily traceable causes. However, tension headaches may be caused by additional stress or lack of sleep.
On the other hand, cluster headaches may be a result of dehydration. On the other hand, migraine headaches have common triggers but are a neurological condition with no one cause. A person who has migraine headaches may find that certain factors, like foods or scents, trigger their pain.
What causes headaches and migraines?
While tension and cluster headaches may be caused at times by these factors, an important distinguishing factor is that those who suffer from migraine vs. headache will nearly always be triggered by their particular combination of factors. These migraine causes include the following:
Hormonal shift: a factor in migraine
Comparatively, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. They are also more likely to see migraine pain diminish, if not disappear, after menopause, which leads some researchers to conclude that changes in hormones are a factor in migraine in women.
Michael A. Moskowitz, MD, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston had this to say about the connection.
Link between allergies and migraines
Especially relevant, a study published in the November 25, 2013 edition of the online journal Cephalalgia connected allergies and migraine headaches for the first time.
Allergies, also called allergic rhinitis, are a condition that causes irritation and inflammation in the body. Because migraines are also associated with inflammation of the blood vessels, it makes sense that one might exacerbate (or trigger) the other.
Environmental conditions trigger migraine
This is a broad category of causes that could be considered more along the lines of triggers than root causes of migraine. These include any of the following:
Genetics: a powerful cause of migraines
Presently, another larger study of 11,000 migraine sufferers found other genetic links to migraine without aura. While the science continues to develop, it is clear that family history is a powerful cause of migraine vs. headache, with 80% of migraine sufferers having at least one family member who also has migraines.
Nerve damage can lead to migraines
Nerve fibers are surrounded by a protective coating called the myelin sheath. This prevents nerves from being overly stimulated at any given time, but when this sheath is damaged, migraines could result.
Prevention and Treatments
To prevent headaches, you need to develop stress management techniques through meditation and meditative exercise such as yoga and tai chi.
To prevent a migraine:
Finally, you can track symptoms and triggers so you can avoid them in the future.
So how your chiropractor can help?
First of all, when the blood vessels to begin to dilate, this can lead to a headache or migraine. One of the things that you can do to normalize blood flow into the head or anywhere is to make sure that the autonomic nerves are functioning well. Misalignments in the upper cervical part of the spine can put pressure on the nerves that travel back in the head.
The good news is, our chiropractor can evaluate and correct those misalignments helping those blood vessels to function more normally, thus reducing the headache or migraine.
For many years chiropractic care has been making a difference with peoples headaches and migraines. Imagine what it can do for you.