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How do I know whether my Headache is a Migraine?

Almost everyone has suffered a headache at some time in their lives. While headaches usually resolve themselves with some rest and sometimes, over-the-counter medication, there are some headaches that should be taken seriously.


A headache involves a feeling of pressure and pain anywhere in the head. They can be mild or intense and can happen on either or both sides of the head. Most commonly, people report headache in temples, forehead and back of the neck.

Headaches can last from a few minutes to as long as a week. Tension headaches are the commonest of all headaches, and this type of headache is usually caused due to stress, muscle pulls, or anxiety.

Apart from tension headaches, there are several other types of headaches.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are extremely painful and start on one side of the head. They re-occur in cycles. So, patients experience pain-free periods followed by a severe cluster of pain.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are the result of pressure caused by a sinus infection. Such headaches may be accompanied by a fever, coughing, and congestion.

Thunderclap Headaches

Thunderclap headaches are extremely intense headaches that occur suddenly. Thunderclap headaches can indicate a stroke, aneurysm, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or other serious medical conditions. So, you should rush to your doctor immediately.


A migraine is a severe headache with additional symptoms, including –

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain behind the ear or eye
  • Pain in the temples
  • Sensitivity to lights and sounds
  • Short-term vision loss

Migraines are more debilitating than tension headaches. Many patients reach ER seeking help. Migraines often affect one side of the head, but can affect both sides.

Migraine headaches can be with an aura, or without an aura. Aura refers to the feeling the person gets about 10 - 30 minutes before migraine occurs. These sensations include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Tingling or numbing in the hands or face
  • Feeling strange smells or tastes

Another sign of migraines is the “prodrome” phase, which may occur 1-2 days before the migraine. These signs include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Stiff neck
  • Constipation
  • Constant yawning
  • Strange food cravings

Migraines can be triggered by –

  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Contraceptive use
  • Alcohol use
  • Menopause

Treatment Options

Fortunately, most tension headaches go away on their own. Rest, relaxation, and massage also help to reduce tension headaches.

You can prevent may types of headaches by –

  • eliminating food triggers, such as excess alcohol and caffeine
  • reducing stress
  • taking prescription medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • over-the-counter pain relievers

If you’re suffering from headaches that reoccur or don’t resolve, consult a restorative pain management doctor today.

If you are looking for internal medicine and restorative pain management doctors in San Diego, call Pacific Medical Care at (619) 333-8114. Pacific Medical Care provides a wide range of healthcare services, and first-rate care to treat the whole patient.

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Joined: October 24th, 2018
Articles Posted: 27
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