Do I Have Migraine Headaches?

If you have headaches and are wondering if they could be migraine headaches we can probably help you figure that out. There are some very distinctive characteristics of migraine headaches that can differentiate migraines from other types of headaches such as tension headaches, stress headaches, cluster headaches or other types of headaches.

Migraine headaches are more often than not one-sided, meaning the pain is felt on only one side of the head. Most of the time the pain of a migraine headache can be felt in the temple area or behind one of the eyes or ears. Migraine headaches can become severe and disabling. Nausea is a common symptom of this type of headache as is vomiting or sensitivity to light or sound. About 20% of patients with migraine headaches experience an aura. An aura is a disturbance in vision that can consist of bright blinking colored lights that move across the field of vision.

Migraine headaches can become chronic in nature. When they are chronic the patient most commonly experiences them once or twice a month. However, in some instances migraine headaches can occur as often as once or twice a week. Migraine headaches affect people between the ages of 15 and 55 and are more common in women than in men. Migraines affect women about 3 times as often as men.

Migraines affect about 30 or 40 million Americans, but they are less common than tension headaches. It is estimated that about 75% of all headaches are tension headaches. Tension headaches are typically characterized by a dull pain over the entire head while migraines are usually throbbing in nature and located in one particular spot. In other words, tension-type headaches are a constant dull pain while migraines throb like the beating of the heart.

Chronic tension headaches can occur every day while chronic migraine headaches occur less often, usually once a week to once a month. Fatigue and stress can cause both types of headaches, but migraine headaches can be triggered by other factors such as different types of food. Migraine headaches can sometimes be helped by eliminating these triggers. Foods that may lead to migraines include cheese, alcohol, MSG (monosodium glutamate),
nuts, beans, caffeine, chocolate, onions and others. Eliminating the trigger may eliminate the migraines.

Cluster headaches are far less common than either migraine headaches or tension-type-headaches. Men are about six times more likely than women to experience cluster headaches. The pain of a cluster headache starts quickly, without any warning, and typically reaches its peak between two and fifteen minutes.

The pain of a cluster headache can be extremely intense, deep and explosive. Migraines are usually “pulsing” while clusters are not. Between 10 and 20 percent of cluster patients have “ice-pick” or “stabbing” pain around the eyes. This stabbing pain typically lasts for a few seconds, but can occur several times in succession. When this sudden attack of intense pain occurs it usually means that the headache is near its end.

For natural migraine headache relief it is often beneficial to relax and rest. Sometimes lying in a dark room with an ice pack on the base of the skull can reduce the pressure that is felt in the head. The same treatment can also help tension or stress headaches. Reducing stress can go a long way to relieving many headache symptoms.

If you experience chronic headaches and over-the-counter medication or natural remedies do not help it may be wise to consult a physician.

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