What Is a Migraine?
Migraine Symptoms and Triggers
Symptoms associated with migraine can include some or all of:
- Upset stomach, abdominal pain or loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain behind one eye or both
- Pain in temples or across the forehead
- Pain in back of head or neck stiffness
- Pain in jaw or tooth pain
- Sensitivity to light, sound or smell
- Blurred vision or blind spots
- Warm or cold sensations especially in extremities (toes, fingers, nose) or chills
- Slight fever
- Irritability, mood swings or depression
- Food cravings
Migraine triggers vary in each sufferer. Some may consist of:
- Environment or weather
- Lack of sleep
- Smells (such as cigarette smoke or perfume)
- Lights or sounds
- Physical activity
- Extreme heat or cold
Preventing and Treating a Migraine
Prevention techniques can be helpful in lessening the frequency or severity of attacks. Along with the techniques to help headaches and improve stress management listed above, there are different ways to live preventatively.
- Eliminate trigger foods and change your diet. Trigger foods may include alcohol, caffeine, MSG, aged cheese, and processed foods.
- Try acupuncture and massage. You can also use epsom salt baths at home to relax tense muscles and ease pain.
- Physical therapy, yoga, and/or gentle stretching can help. This can help the neck and shoulder tension that’s common in migraineurs.
- Try biofeedback. This therapy is said to help you gain control over involuntary functions in your body, such as a migraine.
- Medication can be used for prevention and abortive purposes. Botox, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, antiepileptic medication, anti-nauseants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and triptans are all used to treat migraines.
Medications should be prescribed and recommended by a qualified doctor. Neurologists and doctors who specialize in headache disorders are recommended versus a general practitioner with headaches.
Medications cause side effects and should be taken with care, under supervision and compared with other medications taken by a pharmacist. From time to time the body and its reactions to medications change, therefore making open communication and frequent doctors visits crucial in finding the best preventative and abortive.
The Bottom Line
Although headache and migraine have many overlapping triggers, symptoms and treatments, they are distinctly different. A bad headache is not a migraine.
Although migraine is a severe headache, it also involves many other symptoms and is a neurological disease requiring specialists and unique treatment. Migraine is often stigmatized as less than it is by the confusion of being a headache when it is so much more.
Next time you hear someone compare their headache to a migraine, please pass along this article and educate them on the difference between headaches and migraines.