- Migraine vs. Headache
How are migraines diagnosed?
To make the diagnosis of migraine, your doctor will take your complete medical history. They will ask you about:
- Your headache symptoms
- The type and location of your headache
- The frequency of headaches
- Triggers for the headache
- Medication history
- Aura: How you felt before, during and after the headache
How do you tell the difference between a migraine and a headache?
According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders 3 (ICHD) criteria for migraine without aura, you must have had at least five headache attacks fulfilling the following criteria:
Headache attacks lasting four to 72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated)
The headache has at least two of the following characteristics:
- Unilateral location
- Pulsating quality
- Moderate or severe pain intensity
- Aggravation by or causing you to avoid routine physical activity (for example, walking or climbing stairs)
- In addition, during the headache, at least one of the following characteristics:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Photophobia (light intolerance) and/or phonophobia (noise intolerance)
Are there any migraine treatments?
There is no permanent cure for migraine headaches. However, with treatment, you can
- Prevent the attacks
- Get relief from the symptoms
- Decrease the severity and frequency of the attacks
These treatments include:
- Pain relievers: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, caffeine and ibuprofen, work well in relieving your headache temporarily. Be careful when you take OTC pain relievers because using them too much can give you rebound headaches.
- Triptans: You might get a pill to swallow, tablets you dissolve on your tongue, a nasal spray, an injection, or a skin patch.
- Dihydroergotamine: This can be used as an injection or as a nasal spray.
- Reyvow (Lasmiditan): This is a newly approved drug (2019) to relieve the signs and symptoms of migraine.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists: These are prescribed if other medicines fail to provide you relief.
If other treatments do not work and you have four or more migraine days a month, your doctor may suggest medicines to prevent them or reduce their severity. These include
- Anti-Seizure medicines
- Blood pressure medicines (like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers)
- Some antidepressants
- Shots of Botox (botulinum toxin type a)
- CGRP antagonists
If you feel the aura of migraine or that a migraine attack is about to start, you can place a device known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), another migraine treatment option, on the back of your head. It sends waves of magnetic energy to part of your brain, which may stop or reduce pain.
What is the best thing to do for a migraine?
If you get migraines, you can ease the pain immediately by simple measures that include:
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room
- Putting an ice pack on your forehead
- Hydrating yourself by drinking plenty of liquids
You can talk with your doctor and try complementary or alternative treatments along with other medications. These include:
- Biofeedback: This method helps to identify stressful situations that could trigger migraines. By modifying your body’s reaction to stress, you can prevent migraine attacks.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A specialist can teach you changes people’s attitudes and their behavior.
- Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): A therapist will teach how to tighten and relax your body muscles to relieve the stress that triggers your migraine.
- Supplements: These include riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and melatonin.
- Physical therapies: These include chiropractic, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and craniosacral therapy.
- Deep breathing
How can you prevent migraine?
Try these steps to prevent symptoms:
- Identify and avoid triggers
- Manage stress
- Eat on a regular schedule
- Drink lots of fluid
- Get plenty of rest
- Get regular moderate exercise
- Use devices (Cefaly and gammaCore) that prevent migraine
- Your Child Is Sick. Do You Call Your Doctor or Head to the ER?
- Mental Health Care Shortage Could Play Role in U.S. Youth Suicides
- Shopping Black Friday for TVs, Furniture? Don't Forget the Tip-Over Kit
- Keeping Thanksgiving Day Kitchens Safe for the Whole Family
- All the Flavor, Better Health: Holiday Dinner Ingredient Swaps That Work
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is the Best Thing to Do for a Migraine Related Articles
Abdominal Migraines in Children and AdultsAbdominal migraine in adults and children is a variant of migraine headaches. Abdominal migraine in children generally occurs in children who have a family history of migraines. Causes of abdominal migraine is not known. Symptoms of abdominal migraine include acute, severe, midline abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, paleness, and inability to eat. Abdominal migraine is diagnosed through patient history, family history, and ruling out other medical causes. Treatment of abdominal migraine include tricyclic antidepressants and triptans.
Can You Take Time Off Work for a Migraine?Migraines are most common in adults of working age. Since migraines are still misunderstood, there's not typically a lot of support at work. Talk to your employer and discuss sick policies. They may have information about managing migraines and work. You should also tread your company's Equality and Diversity and Health and Safety policies.
Celebrities With MigrainesSee how celebrities cope with the pain caused by migraines. Learn their methods used to prevent and relieve migraine pain.
Migraine TriggersDo you have frequent headaches? Learn the most common headache triggers for tension headaches, sinus headaches, cluster headaches and migraine. They include red wine, skipping meals, and smoke. Find medical treatments that work, like diet, exercise, massage, and physical therapy.
How Do You Get Rid of a Migraine Fast?Migraine is a neurological condition that is characterized by recurrent episodes of intense headaches. It may be associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and other clinical features.
Migraine HeadacheMigraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Migraines and Seizures (Symptoms, Auras, Medication)Migraines are a type of headache and seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Migraine headaches and seizures are two different neurological problems that have similar signs, symptoms, and auras, for example, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound, irritability, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms unique to migraine and migraine auras are water retention, problems sleeping, appetite changes, and talkativeness. Symptoms unique to seizure and seizures auras are depression, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that a seizure is approaching, and depression.
Many of the symptoms of migraine and seizures are the same, however, seizures do not cause migraines; however, people who have seizures are twice as likely to have migraines and vice-versa. People who have migraines are twice as likely to have seizures, and people with seizures are twice as likely to have migraines; however, one condition does not cause the other.
Migraine and StrokeMigraine headache is a type of headache in which the exact cause is not known; however, they may be inherited, and certain foods and environmental factors can trigger and may contribute them. A stroke (brain attack) happens when a blood vessel in the brain leaks, bursts, or becomes blocked, which can be caused by many other health problems. Both migraines and strokes can can cause severe head pain (migraine pain usually is only on one side of the head). Migraine aura symptoms may mimic or feel like a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) because they have similar symptoms and signs like severe headache, numbness in the legs, feet, arms, hands, or face, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Other migraine aura symptoms include vision problems like flashing lights or blind spots in one eye. The main difference between migraine headache and stroke symptoms and signs is that a migraine headaches usually come on gradually while a stroke symptoms come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
Migraine HeadachesIs it a headache or a migraine? Learn what a migraine is, causes, symptoms, treatments, and at-home remedies.
Migraine HacksA migraine can be more than just a whopping headache. Try these self-care tips for relief before and after it hits.
Migraine or Tension Headache? Symptoms, Triggers, TreatmentsWhat does a migraine headache feel like compared to a tension headache? Learn to spot migraine symptoms early, how to identify your triggers, and get more information on migraine headache medications and treatments. Learn to tell migraine from other types of headaches.
Migraine vs. Headache: Differences and SimilaritiesHeadaches are the most common reason why a person goes to the doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. There are different types of headaches, for example, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is tension headache. Migraine is much less common. There are few similarities between migraine and other headaches, for example, the severity of the pain can be the same, mild, moderate, or severe; and they can occur on one side or both sides of the head. However, there are many differences between migraine and other types of headaches. Migraine headaches also have different names, for example, migraine with aura and menstrual migraine.
Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain.
Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure.
Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Should I Go to the ER for a Migraine?A migraine is a severe throbbing and pulsating headache that causes pain on one side of the head. A patient should visit an emergency department if they have a severe headache with or without nausea and vomiting.
What Are the First Signs of a Migraine?The first sign of a migraine is severe eye pain associated with a dull headache. Migraines gradually worsen with physical activity.
What Causes Migraines in Women?Migraine is most commonly seen in women. Every three out of four women are affected by migraines.
Some of the most common triggers affecting women are changes in hormonal levels or birth control pills, lack of sleep or too much sleep, and others