Migraine and headache are both common terms used to describe head pain. Migraine is a complex condition characterized by recurrent head pain that is typically moderate to severe. It often includes other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Headache, on the other hand, is a more general term that can be used to describe any type of head pain, from mild to severe. While migraine and headache are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct conditions. Migraine is a serious condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, while headache is generally less severe and does not usually last as long. If you are experiencing recurrent head pain, it is important to see a doctor so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Who do migraines and headaches affect?

In the United States, migraines and headaches are some of the most common reasons why people miss work or school. In fact, they are one of the leading causes of disability in adults. 

Who is at Risk for migraines and headaches?

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of primary headaches. These include genetics, lifestyle choices, and underlying medical conditions. 

  • People who have a family history of migraines are more likely to experience them themselves.

  • Lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, can also increase the risk.

  • Medical conditions, such as sleep disorders and head injuries, have been linked to primary headaches. 

  • Certain foods/drinks (caffeine) or skipping meals

  • Certain medications

  • Stress

  • Dehydration

What are the signs and symptoms of migraines and headaches?

Migraine and headache can both be debilitating, with symptoms that can include severe pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. While there are some similarities between the two conditions, there are also some key differences. Migraine headaches are often associated with a throbbing pain that is worse on one side of the head. They can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Headaches, on the other hand, tend to be more of a constant pain that is evenly distributed across the head. They may also be accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, but not typically to the same degree as migraines. If you suspect that you may be suffering from either condition, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

How are migraines and headaches diagnosed?

When patients come to the doctor complaining of headaches, it is important to determine whether they are suffering from migraines or some other type of headache. There are a few key differences between migraines and other types of headaches. 

For example, migraines are often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Migraine sufferers may also experience an aura, which is a visual disturbance that can include flashing lights or blind spots. In contrast, tension headaches are usually less severe and are not accompanied by nausea or vomiting. 

Tension headaches also tend to be more diffuse, involving the whole head rather than being concentrated in one area. If headaches are accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, or confusion, this may be a sign of a more serious condition such as meningitis. If a patient comes to the doctor complaining of a headache, taking a thorough history and conducting a physical examination can help to narrow down the diagnosis.

What Prescription Medications Treat Migraines and Headaches?

Migraine and headaches are common problems, however, don’t assume that over-the-counter medication (Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Excedrin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen) will always help. If you have severe or chronic migraines, it’s important to see a doctor for prescription treatment options. 

There are many different types of migraine and headache medications available, from pain relievers to anti-nausea drugs. The best type of medication for you will depend on the severity and frequency of your migraines. If you have migraines more than once a week, you may need something prescribed by your doctor (Triptans).

In some cases, preventative medication (propranolol or amitriptyline) is necessary to stop migraines before they start. 

If you’re not sure what type of medication is right for you, ask your doctor for advice.

How can I manage my migraines and headaches with a Healthy Lifestyle?

Though the precise cause of migraines is still not known, researchers have identified several triggers that can bring on an attack. These include stress, bright lights, loud noises, and certain foods and drinks. Some people are also sensitive to changes in weather or barometric pressure. 

While there is no cure for migraines, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to prevent or relieve attacks. For example, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating healthy meals, and avoiding trigger foods can all help to reduce the frequency of migraines. With proper treatment and lifestyle modifications, it is possible to manage migraines and live a pain-free life.

Migraine & Headache with lightning bolts

Top Migraine & Headache Medications

Sumatriptan Tablets 50 mg
Sumatriptan Succinate
Generic for Imitrex
Rizatriptan Benzoate Orally Disintegrating Tablets 10 mg
Rizatriptan ODT
Generic for Maxalt MLT

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