We’ve likely all muttered this phrase at one time or another to describe an exaggerated, throbbing, relentless headache. For the 39 million Americans who suffer from migraines, however, the reality of this neurological disease is devastatingly painful, and for many, disruptive to their day-to-day lifestyle. Where, then, is the line between a terrible headache and a more severe migraine? Can the pain adequately be measured, or are there other symptoms that indicate are more severe condition?
A headache is an aching or sensation of pressure, most often on both sides of the head. Headaches range from mild to severe, sometimes focus on the temples, forehead, or back of the neck, and can last from 30 minutes to seven days. The most common form of headaches is a tension headache, typically caused by stress, anxiety, or muscle strain.
Unlike a typical tension headache, a migraine is a neurological disease marked by various symptoms that include more than head pain. Like tension headaches, they can range in severity and length. For a migraine sufferer, changes in brain activity impact blood flow in the brain and surrounding areas. In addition to head pain, during a migraine, a person may experience:
Migraines can be triggered by a variety of factors, depending on the person, and may include:
In addition to the common factors listed above, some people find that their migraines are brought on by such factors as stress, sleep deprivation, some foods, smells, or even the weather.
If you have the following symptoms, you may be experiencing a tension headache:
If you have the following symptoms, you may be experiencing a migraine:
Understanding and accurately diagnosing a typical headache and a migraine can make the crucial difference between ongoing suffering and obtaining proper treatment. Maybe, more importantly, it can help you minimize the continuous frequency of your painful symptoms. If you believe that you are suffering from regular migraines, talk to your doctor. With an effective treatment plan and a commitment to essential lifestyle changes, you can stop living in fear of debilitating pain and start reclaiming your lifestyle.