Migraines Versus Headaches: What’s the Difference?
Are migraines just really bad headaches? How can you tell if the head pain you have is a migraine or a headache? This article will answer some of those questions and then discuss how you can find natural relief that is reliable and proven to help.
If you have pain or pressure in your head, it may be hard to tell if you are having a headache or a migraine. This is important to find out so that you get the proper care. You may even be able to prevent future head pain if you know what exactly is happening.
What Are Headaches?
Headaches are defined as unpleasant pain in your head that causes pressure and aching. Pain may be anywhere from mild to severe and usually happens on both sides of your head. Areas where you may have head pain can include the forehead, back of the neck, and temples. Headaches usually last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week long. The most common headache type is a tension headache, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tension headaches are often triggered by anxiety, stress, and muscle strain.
There are also other headache types:
- Cluster headaches: These are extremely painful headaches that happen on one side of the head and come in clusters, meaning you have cycles of severe headaches followed by periods that are headache-free.
- Sinus headaches: Sometimes confused with migraines, sinus headaches usually happen alongside sinus infections. Symptoms include fever, cough, congestion, facial pressure, and a stuffy nose.
- Chiari headaches: These happen due to a birth defect called Chiari malformation. The skull pushes against certain parts of the brain, leading to pain in the back of the head.
- Thunderclap headaches: A thunderclap headache comes on very suddenly. In fact, it develops in 60 seconds or less. There is a possibility it is a result of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a dangerous medical condition requiring immediate medical attention. It can be due to a stroke, an aneurysm, or other injuries. If you get this kind of headache, you should call 911 immediately.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are a neurological condition that have intense headaches as one of its major symptoms. It is rare, but some migraines occur without head pain. The following are some of the most common symptoms of migraines:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain behind one eye or one ear
- Seeing spots or flashing lights and other visual disturbances
- Pain in the temples
- Temporary vision loss
- Sensitivity to light, sound, or certain odors
When comparing migraines to other kinds of headaches, the pain of migraines is much more severe. Some people have such severe headaches that they go to the emergency room to try to get some relief. In two-thirds of the cases, migraines affect only one side of the head. The pain of migraines feels like a throbbing or pounding sensation in the head or neck. It makes performing routine, daily tasks nearly impossible. Many people seek refuge in a cool, dark room until the pain goes away.
There are two categories of migraines. These are migraine with and migraine without aura. An aura is type of warning sensation you get about an hour before the migraine pain hits. Some people have auras but never get the head pain. The sensations sometimes overlap the migraine pain, lasting around 30 minutes to an hour. If you have an aura, you may have the following symptoms:
- Feeling less mentally alert and having trouble thinking
- Feeling a tingling sensation in the face or hands
- Having an unusual sense of smell, taste or touch
- Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, and other visual disturbances
Sometimes when you have migraines, you may have some strange symptoms a day or two before the actual migraine happens. These are very subtle signs that you may barely notice and may include the following:
- Unusual food cravings
- A stiff neck
- Feeling irritable
- Yawning frequently
Triggers for Migraines
It has been noted by those who suffer from migraines that particular factors are often associated with them. These are referred to as migraine triggers. They can be any of the following or even a combination of the following:
- Birth control pills
- Changes in hormones
- Foods, such as chocolate, red wine, aged cheeses, caffeine, aspartame, and MSG
- Changes in weather
- Low blood sugar due to missed meals
What You Can Do at Home to Fight Migraines
For one thing, reducing as much stress as possible is a good way to eliminate some migraines. You may try the following to help ease your stressful day:
- Heat therapy — applying warm compresses or taking a warm shower
- Gently stretching your neck
- Breathing exercises and other relaxation exercises
Finding Help Through Proper Spinal Alignment
The upper cervical spine has been discovered as being a possible source of migraine pain. The top bones of the neck, the C1 and C2 vertebrae, are very susceptible to misaligning. It only takes a minor trip or bumping your head on something to cause them to misalign. They are located very close to the brainstem. In fact, they were created to protect the brainstem. The opposite becomes true, however, when they misalign. They actually put the brainstem under stress and cause it to send improper signals to the brain. The misaligned bones can also act as a hindrance to blood flow and cerebrospinal fluid flow. Too much may build up in the brain or too little may be able to reach the brain. Either way, migraines can happen.
Upper cervical chiropractors are specifically trained to find these tiny misalignments and then work to get them corrected. We are not required to pop or crack the neck in order to do this. Rather, we use a gentle method to encourage the bones to move back into place. Once this is done, many patients see relief from the migraine symptoms. Some see their migraines go away and not return.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Perkins call 248-478-6203 or just click the button below
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.