“Do I have migraines or headaches?”

Do I have migraines or just bad headaches?

Patients often explain to me that they suffer from migraines. After further questioning a lot of the time I find that the patients are sometimes confuse symptoms of headaches, with migraines. It is very important to be able to differentiate between headaches and migraines because it can drastically change treatment and management going forward.

How are they different?

Typically headaches are more diffuse in nature, meaning you will experience discomfort through out the head and face, not just in a specific area. The most common type of headaches occur across the forehead and develop during periods of stress, lack of sleep or sometimes dehydration. There are many other causes of headaches and the symptoms may vary from person to person. If you’re interested in the specific different types of headaches keep an eye out as there will be a future post going into more detail.

So now you know what a headaches are, what about migraines?

Migraines, like headaches vary from person to person but generally if you are suffering from migraines you may be experiencing some or more of nausea, pain behind one eye, throbbing pain in the temples and vomiting… But wait there is more!

Not all migraines are created equal, some people experiences the phenomena of aura. Have you every had a headache that is so intense you can’t turn on the lights? You can’t get out of bed? And you have trouble focusses you vision on anything with out stars forming?

If the answer is yes the chances are you have experienced a migraine with aura.

Thats great I now know the difference between headaches and migraines but how do I make them stop?

Now the most important thing to remember when looking to get relief from headaches or migraines is to make sure you consult your GP. Although this blog is trying to help you identify the difference between headaches and migraines, self diagnosis is never a good idea. (Dr Google is not a real doctor!)

When I have a patient come into my clinic with symptoms of persistent headaches or migraines almost always prescribe some dull but extremely helpful homework. I ask patients to keep a detailed diary for at least 3 weeks taking note of what they have eaten, drunk, how much sleep they had, what activities they did during the day and did you suffer from a headache/migraine today? (there are more question but you get the idea)

Although very boring all this information can be looked back at and traced. The best way to help migraines and headaches isn’t always taking medications. Removing any triggers from a patients daily life can be a great way to proactively get on top of headaches and migraines for some patients.