There aren’t enough hours in the day to devote to unearthing the difference between a headache and a migraine. There is just so much mounting information on these topics. However, a brief synopsis of these conditions is outlined below.
How to Decipher
You’ve spent months preparing for a presentation at your work, only to awake the following morning to deliver it with what you think is a headache. Do you know the difference between a headache and a migraine?
Here’s the difference: A headache is pain or discomfort in the neck, head or scalp. Headache sufferers might find comfort in knowing that serious causes of headaches are very rare. And, many with headaches may feel ease once certain lifestyle changes are made, such as learning ways to relax with deep breathing techniques.
There are many different types of headaches, but tension headaches (stress headaches), the most common type of headaches, are brought on by tight muscles in your jaw, shoulders, neck and scalp. One can get a tension headache from a variety of ways, such as being depressed, having anxiety, from a head injury, being stressed and from one holding their head and neck in an irregular position.
What else should I know about tension headaches? More often than not they tend to be on both sides of your head. Tension headaches often start at the back of your head and spread forward. You know you have a tension headache if you feel dull or squeezing pains; these pains sometimes can feel like you are in a vice or a tight band. Overall, try ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin for relieving tension headaches.
Women have a greater risk of experiencing many health aliments, compared to men. With headaches, it is no different. Why? Women are twice as likely to suffer from tension-type headaches as men. As a matter of fact, roughly 30 percent to 80 percent of the adult U.S. population suffers from occasional tension headaches.
For Your Part
Tension headaches can be prevented. Your doctor may have insisted that you exercise, now is the perfect time to listen to him/her by exercising regularly. Simply get at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week, you’ll thank yourself when you have one fewer tension headache a month.
Some have the weight of the world on their shoulders, literally. If this scenario pertains to you, seek help when you are unable to cope with certain life situations. Talk to a family member, friend, religious or health care professional if your problems are getting the better of you.
It pays to be in tune with your body, by knowing what your headache triggers are. Simply keep a ‘headache diary’ to keep track of what triggers your headaches and avoid these triggers as much as possible.
Other Pains in the Head
From less severe to more severe; migraine headaches are severe headaches that usually occur with other symptoms, namely nausea and vision changes. The fact that you are experiencing migraines may not be attributed to anything you may be aware of. Your migraines may be a part of your DNA makeup. That’s right, migraines have a tendency to run in families. What’s more, four out of five migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines. If one parent has a history of migraines, the child has a 50 percent chance of developing migraines, too. Nonetheless, if both parents have a history of migraines, the risk leaps to 75 percent.
Know these migraine symptoms:
- Migraine pain may be pounding, throbbing or pulsating;
- Pain typically begins on one side of your head, however, it may spread to both sides;
- You may have an “aura” (a group of warning symptoms that start before your headache);
- Migraine pain usually worsens as you move around;
- Headaches may be triggered by foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses or MSG;
- Caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep (insomnia) and alcohol can also trigger migraines.
You can take action when it comes to migraines. Just as there are ways you can increase your chances of getting a headache, there are ways you can decrease the severity of them, as well. If you have a migraine you can drink water to avoid the chances of being dehydrated, especially if you have vomited. Now is the time to learn and practice your relaxation techniques, because they can greatly reduce your migraine. This old remedy always works: Place a cool cloth on your head. Lastly, you can change your environment or habits to avoid future headaches.
Changes in Life
Even though we have touched on the in’s and out’s of headaches and migraines, you should also be aware of the fact that you may need to seek the help of a doctor if:
- This is the first headache you have ever had and it interferes with routine activities;
- You have cancer and develop a new headache;
- Your headache comes on suddenly and is explosive or violent;
- Your headache occurs with a head injury;
- You would describe your headache as “your worst ever,” even if you regularly get headaches;
- You have slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion or memory loss with your headache;
- Your headache gets worse over a 24-hour period;
- You also have a fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting with your headache;
- Your headache is severe and just in one eye only, with redness in that eye;
- You are over age 50 and your headaches just began, especially if you also have vision problems and pain while chewing.
Eliminating the Problem
Millions of people suffer from headaches each year. While research is still underway to pinpoint the exact causes of headaches and migraines, you can bet your bottom dollar that many more will continue to experience them, as daily demands never cease.