What is a Migraine?

How to tell the difference between a migraine and a regular headache?

What is a migraine?

There are four common types of headache: tension headache, sinus headache, cluster headache and migraine headaches.  A migraine can last indefinitely.  It can force one to give up activities and even alter one’s lifestyle.  A migraine headache may cause throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on one side of one’s head.

  The pain may get worse from: exertion, stress, drinking alcohol, food or food additives (such as msg), glare, hormonal changes, skipping a meal, intense exercise, cigarette smoke or a change in the weather.  A migraine may make one sensitive to sound, smell and touch. Migraine headaches can last anywhere from 4 hours to days at a time.

There are two different kinds of migraine headaches.  Episodic Migraines occur fewer than 15 days per month. Chronic Migraines occur more than 15 types per month.  With chronic migraines one may never have a day without a headache.  This can be debilitating.  According to Richard B. Lipton, MD, director of the Montegiore Headache Center in New York City, 2% of people with episodic migraines progress to chronic headaches.  The more one experiences episodic migraines the more likely they are to develop chronic migraine headaches.

72% of migraine sufferers experience feelings of fatigue prior to an attack.  50% of people who suffer from migraines have trouble concentrating and/or have a stiff neck before an attack.  Approximately, 30% of migraine sufferers experience an Aura prior to a migraine attack.  An Aura can manifest in several ways; for
example, visual disturbances such as flashing lights, zigzag lines or blind spots.  One may also experience tingling in the arms or legs.  An aura lasts anywhere from 5-20 minutes.

The good news is that there are many treatment plans for preventing migraines.  If one can tell when a migraine is coming, it is much easier to prevent a full blown attack.  Keep a journal of when you have a migraine; include when it started, how long it lasted and any other symptoms.  Present this journal to your doctor.  It may take a few tries to zero in on your own successful treatment plan.  Don’t get
discouraged.  Keep an honest dialogue going with your doctor and maintain your treatment plan.



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