7 Signs Your Headache is a Migraine
A large number of people experience migraines. However, many still don’t understand the condition fully. Most think they have a migraine but are actually only experiencing a severe headache. On the flip side, many suffering from migraines aren’t aware that migraines are the reason for the pain they feel. Migraine sufferers often think they are dealing with sinus headaches and wonder why allergy medications don’t yield the desired results.
A migraine is a kind of headache that strikes an individual repeatedly. Patients report moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain when having a migraine episode. Often these symptoms are also accompanied by others like nausea and weakness.
The debilitating headaches, along with other physical symptoms, need prompt treatment. The pain management experts at Advanced Pain Care diagnose migraines and provide treatment plans to relieve symptoms and prevent additional attacks.
Determining if you are experiencing a migraine or a usual headache can be difficult. Watch for these seven indicators:
Nausea or Vomiting
According to the Headache journal (1), a majority of patients (90%) with migraines experience nausea. Another significant majority (70%) report vomiting with their migraine attack.
So, if you are experiencing throbbing pain in your head accompanied by nausea or vomiting, you’re likely dealing with a migraine. Often, they are found in vestibular migraine. It’s a kind of migraine that may or may not happen with head pain.
Nausea is a fairly common migraine symptom. That’s why it’s a part of the diagnostic criteria. However, it does not look similar in every patient dealing with migraines. Some will experience a mild form of it, while others experience full-blown nausea.
Pre-headache aura is a part of the prodrome phase. Prodrome is the first stage of a migraine that lasts from a few hours to days. Not everyone experiences it as a symptom because it doesn’t happen every time.
If you are experiencing visual disturbances, like flashing lights or blind spots, it’s likely that you are dealing with a pre-headache aura. You may also feel a numbness in your hands, face, or arms. Other common symptoms include changes in speech, seeing wavy lines, and an overall “strange” feeling. This migraine symptom is prevalent in patients who suffer migraines frequently.
Pain on One Side of the Head
If you are experiencing a particular type of headache that’s one-sided and throbbing in nature, it’s likely a migraine. This throbbing pain on a particular side of the head is often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and sensory sensitivity.
There are seven different kinds of migraine headaches. They include the following:
- Common migraine or migraine without aura – It starts slowly but lasts longer. It produces pain on a specific side of your head.
- Classic migraine or migraine with aura – In it, the aura interferes with your vision. Apart from seeing colors, flashing lights, or shadows, it’s also possible to temporarily lose some of your vision.
- Migraine without head pain or a “silent migraine” – Here, you’ll feel other migraine symptoms except for pain.
- Hemiplegic migraine – Results in the weakening of one side of the body. Its symptoms are temporary, and the areas affected by the weakness include the arms, face, or leg.
- Retinal migraine – It comes with symptoms like blindness in one eye and other vision problems. However, these symptoms aren’t permanent.
- Chronic migraine – If you experience a headache for more than 15 days every month for more than three months, it’s a chronic migraine. Symptoms are similar to that of a common migraine but with frequent recurrence.
- Vestibular migraine – It’s accompanied by vertigo or loss of balance. You may also experience other symptoms like nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to movement, and dizziness when experiencing this migraine.
- Menstrual migraine – Starting two days prior to a menstrual period, this migraine only affects females and occurs without an aura and lasts for approximately three days after it begins.
It’s important to seek migraine treatment if you are consistently experiencing pain on a single side of your head. The specialists diagnose its root cause, so you get lasting relief from this painful symptom.
Heightened Sense of Smell
Odor plays a critical role in triggering migraines. They indicate the first stage of an attack. A common part of migraine pain is an increased sensitivity to smells.
Several odors precipitate migraines. Often, these are smells like:
- Car exhaust
- Combustible gas
- Nail polish
- Cleaning items
- Paint thinners
- Cigarette smoke
When having a migraine episode, you will generally feel a sharp aversion to smells that are unpleasant to you. It is a result of a psychological condition known as osmophobia. Patients may feel an aversion to the odor of raw food, food that’s cooking, and food items that don’t feel unpleasant to you otherwise. This symptom is often accompanied by general anxiety.
The response to odors is sometimes inconsistent (2). You can find specific scents overpowering when having a migraine episode. And at other times, they may seem normal.
You Experience Neck Pain
As per the Journal of Headache and Pain, neck pain is a symptom (3) and not the cause of a migraine attack. In fact, it’s a glaring symptom of a migraine. You will feel the neck pain on the same side as the headache. So, if you experience a right-sided headache during a migraine, the neck pain will also be on the right side of your neck. It’s often a key indicator of chronic migraines.
If you experience any of the below-mentioned migraine neck-related symptoms, it’s time to seek a migraine pain relief treatment.
- A minimized range of movement of the neck.
- The headache pain increases on applying pressure to specific neck areas.
- You feel the pain of headache behind the eyes.
- The pain starts from the back of the neck and spreads to the front.
- There’s a “tightness” in your neck.
- Tenderness in the joints
An Urge to Urinate Frequently
Most people feel an urge to urinate more often during the premonitory stage of a migraine attack. Apart from this urge, you may also feel pelvic pain. Frequent trips to the bathroom are a common symptom of an approaching migraine. Many people experience this symptom just before an attack. This warning sign arrives in as little as a single hour or up to two days before the headache begins.
It’s essential to recognize these warning signs and seek an appropriate migraine headache treatment. The treatment specialists will help you make sense of your symptoms and outline an effective pain management plan.
Yawning is a widespread self-reported symptom (4) that accompanies a migraine attack. It’s related to nausea, vomiting, and an extreme aversion to smell and odors. Frequent yawning is also a reliable symptom that offers an opportunity of treating an incoming attack early.
People with migraine typically experience excessive yawning two to three days before the actual attack. What’s strange is that the yawning behavior occurs even when not feeling tired. This kind of yawning occurs every few minutes.
Migraine Treatment at Advanced Pain Care
To minimize the occurrence of migraine episodes, specialists at Advanced Pain Care diagnose the cause and outline effective treatment options. To control migraines, the physicians look at preventative measures, which include diet modifications and lifestyle adjustments. They monitor patients in a multidisciplinary effort. If the migraine headaches refuse to subside, the specialists may recommend minimally invasive surgeries with very few side effects. Patients are also provided a list of instructions to follow to facilitate their successful recovery.
To get effective treatment at Advanced Pain Care, set up a same or next day appointment with the pain care physician. The facility endeavors to make medical services affordable for every individual and so are in network with all significant insurance carriers in the U.S. We offer our services in 15 major locations in Texas. Nine of them in the Greater Austin Area. Three of our surgical centers are located in Austin, Amarillo and Round Rock.
Mark T. Malone, M.D., is a Board Certified pain specialist and a native Texan. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and went on to attend the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Malone attended Baylor College of Medicine… View Profile