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Migraine or Headache? How to Spot the Difference

By Sara Butler

Headaches happen to the best of us, but often people simply dismiss the aches in their heads for a simple sinus headache or maybe a tension headache caused by stress. In reality, that headache may be a migraine. Identifying your migraines so you can seek help for them is important. Here's how to spot the difference between a headache or something more -- like a migraine.

What is a Migraine

A migraine is more than simply a bad headache, it's a neurological disorder that impacts the lives of 39 million Americans. They can be difficult to treat and can make functioning in your daily life difficult.

Migraine pain can be moderate to severe and is often associated with:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In other words, migraines make you want to crawl into a cool, dark room with no sound and lay down until they pass -- which can take anywhere from four hours to 72.

What Happens During a Migraine?

There's a nerve that supplies sensation to your head called the trigeminal nerve. When it gets activated and a little overexcited, then the blood vessels that cover your brain become swollen. This sends signals for other chemicals to be released that cause inflammation, which leads to some serious head pain. The pain then gets carried to different parts of the brain, which is why migraine sufferers also have issues with vision, light sensitivity, and sound when experiencing a migraine.

Is it a Migraine?

Migraines are often confused with other types of headaches. In fact, some research suggests that 90 percent of people who diagnose themselves with a sinus headache is likely having a migraine. Some may even mistake the pain they're experiencing for dental pain or eye pain.

The American Migraine Foundation has a list of symptoms they say denote you're having a migraine. If you experience two or more of these symptoms at once, then there's no mistaking that it's a migraine:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Head pain that causes you to miss work or other events
  • Severe head pain that is unbearable or difficult to endure
  • Throbbing sensation in the head
  • Sensitivity to smells, noise, and light
  • Head pain that lasts between four hours and several days

If you have these symptoms, then you need to go to The Joint Chiropractic and discuss it with a chiropractor. They can help you figure out if your headache is a migraine and what may be triggering it to help you find relief. Remember, you don't have to live with migraines, but the first step to healing is identifying them!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Rowlett, Tex.

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