Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and Migraines:
Difference, Symptoms and Treatment

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a headache and a migraine. For most people, it is the same thing! Still, if one knows the difference between the two, treatment can be easier.

A migraine is a severe form of headache that can cause throbbing pain on either side of the head. It is mostly accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting and nausea, and the attacks can last for days. The pain can be severe enough to interfere in one's daily activities, and this is what makes migraines worthy of attention. On the hand, headaches are less severe and can have various causes including stress, sleeplessness, sinus, or simply tiredness.

Types of Headaches

There are several types of headaches depending upon the root causes like:

Sinus

Sinus headaches are often confused with migraines due to the similarity of symptoms. They co-occur with sinus infections like fever, cough, congestion and facial pressure.


Cluster Headaches

They are severely painful and often occur on one side of the head. The patient experiences cycle of headache attacks with free periods in between.


Thunder Headaches

These headaches develop in less than 60 seconds and can be a symptom of a serious medical condition including strokes, aneurysm or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.


What are the most common causes?

The most common causes of headaches range from hormonal changes to medications. Surroundings, lifestyle and habits, and our generic exposure to how we respond to everyday situations also play an important role. Certain brainstem changes and the trigeminal nerve's interaction, which is a major pathway, also contribute. Chemical imbalances in the brain, like serotonin responsible for regulating pain in the nervous system, also play its part along with calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).


Symptoms of Migraine

Unlike headaches, migraine symptoms are different for everybody, and they often come in stages like

Prodrome

It is the period before the migraine attack occurs, and around 60% of the patients experience symptoms which includes sensitivity to light, smell or sound. It is accompanied by fatigue, craving or lack of appetite. Severe thirst, bloating and constipation or diarrhea.


Aura

It concerns your vision. The symptoms stem from the nervous system and gradually build up over 20 minutes to an hour. You may see flashes of light, black dots or even hallucinate. You may also experience tunnel vision, tingling or numbness on one side of the body, ringing in your ears or a change in taste, smell, or touch.


Attack

It starts with a mild headache with eventually develops into throbbing pain to one side of the head. The pain can move to the other side of the head along with symptoms like nausea. It lasts from 3-4 hours to about three days!


Postdrome

It is the stage after the attack where the person may feel tired or cranky. Some may feel refreshed or experience muscle pain along with changes in appetite.