Headaches versus Migraines

Headaches are a common ailment that strike at the most inopportune times. If you're like many others, you've dealt with the pain of this condition more than once. However, if other symptoms accompany your headache, it may be a sign of a migraine.

At the Neurology Center for Epilepsy and Seizures, our goal is to diagnose you for your headaches so we can get you feeling better. Dr. Amor Mehta and Dr. Hannah Klein are our skilled neurosurgeons who diagnose your symptoms to kick your migraines for good.

What is a headache?

Headaches are a condition that causes you to have pain in your head, face, or neck. There are two main categories of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches aren’t caused by any other condition other than the pain itself. An example of this type of headache is a tension headache.

Secondary headaches are caused by some other condition going on in your body. This could include head trauma or brain tumors. Secondary headaches can sometimes be the first sign of the condition causing the pain.

There are also several different types of headaches. Tension headaches are probably one of the most common forms of a headache. This type of headache is caused by stress and lack of sleep, along with many other causes. Tension headaches feel like there’s a tight band around your head. Different types of headaches that you could experience include:

Migraines are also considered a type of headache. However, they are very different from any other type of headache condition. Although they’re under the umbrella of headaches, knowing the signs of a migraine saves you from a lifetime of pain.

All about migraines

Migraines are a more severe kind of headache usually accompanied by other symptoms other than just head pain. Migraines can be chronic, meaning they can happen several times per month with no known cause. Symptoms of migraines include:

You may also experience sudden temporary vision loss with a migraine. Migraines can last for a few hours or might continue for several days. They can be quite severe and make your life pretty miserable. You usually will have pain on only one side of your head. However, there are circumstances where you could experience pain on both sides. 

Most people with migraines go through four separate phases of a migraine. Although some people go through all four stages, you may only really experience one or two. Each person is different, just like each migraine may be experienced differently. The four different phases of a migraine are:

1. Premonitory phase

This is also sometimes referred to as the prodrome or pre headache phase. You usually don’t experience pain at this phase but will experience other symptoms like mood changes or neck stiffness. This can occur up to several days before your migraine starts.

2. Aura phase

This phase occurs either right before or during your migraine and is marked by sensory disturbances. This means you’ll have trouble with your vision or speech. Visual auras include blurred vision or seeing flashing lights, while speech auras may include slurred speech or trouble concentrating.

3. Headache phase

The third phase of a migraine is the actual headache phase. This is where you’ll experience the pain of a migraine. However, some people never even experience the headache phase of a migraine. 

4. Postdrome phase

This phase occurs after the headache phase is over. It can last from a few hours to several days after the headache has subsided. In this phase, you might feel generally ill or tired. 

Certain triggers can bring on migraines. If you can figure out what’s triggering your migraines, you’ll have more success with preventing them in the future. However, there are times where you’ll need to seek treatment for migraines or headaches.

When to seek treatment

In many cases, headaches and migraines are conditions on their own and will go away with at-home care. However, there are some cases where you should consult Dr. Mehta or Dr. Klein, including:

You can also make an appointment if you’re just tired of dealing with migraines or headaches regularly and want to get a treatment plan started. Dr. Mehta and Dr. Klein go over your history, and after an exam, determine what the best plan of treatment is for your condition.

If you're unsure if you're dealing with just a headache or migraines, call our office at 732-856-5999 to make an appointment or schedule a consultation online today.

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