Is it a Migraine, Just a Headache or an Aneurysm?

So how do you know if you have a headache or a migraine or something more severe?

Many people don’t really know the difference between headaches and migraines. Some people have migraines and mistake them for just a headache but migraines are not headaches. Migraine headaches are really a neurological condition where one of the symptoms is a debilitating headache. According to the American Migraine Foundation more than 36 million Americans have migraine headaches. This means that 1 in 4 households have someone who suffers from migraine headaches. Did you know that there are more than 200 different kinds of headaches according to the International Headache Society?

So how do you know if you have a migraine and not just a headache?

about headache
How do you know if you have a headache, migraine or something more serious?

You have a headache if…

  • the pain is uncomfortable but not debilitating
  • you can carry on with your days activity and can still function
  • pain is often described as a dull, aching pain and a feeling of tightness or pressure around the forehead or head.
  • some people may also have scalp tenderness
  • muscle tension in the neck and/or shoulders
  • headaches can be episodic or chronic

You have a migraine if…

  • the pain is moderate to severe. often the pain is described as throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head.
  • you have difficulty or inability to function normally
  • your symptoms include other signs not just a headache
  • you may have nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, numbness and or tingling in the extremities
  • some migraines are preceded by an aura, which is like a flashing light, blind spots or tingling sensations in the extremities or on part of your face.

You may have a more severe problem, like an aneurysm if…

  • the headache is secondary to other tell-tale signs that something else is wrong.
  • one big sign is what doctors often call a ‘thunderclap headache’, which is a severe often sudden onset of a headache. Most will describe it as the worst headache they’ve ever had.
  • sometimes a person will be coughing or sneezing and develop a headache.
  • aneurysms will normally be found using a type of MRI imaging so that doctors can see the blood vessels in the brain
  • if you think you have an aneurysm, you need to go to emergency care right away.

Finding a good doctor is often the first step in preventing and treating both headaches and migraines. Download a FREE guide on finding a good doctor here.

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