It is important, when seeking treatment, to understand the difference between migraines and other headaches. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are over 150 different types of headaches.
Headaches are characterized by various uncomfortable sensations in the head, ranging from aches and pressure to severe, sharp pains. Headaches can result from various causes, including stress, muscle pain, and sinus infections, to name a few.
Migraines, on the other hand, often have symptoms in addition to head pain, such as nausea/vomiting, visual disturbances, pain in the eyes, ears, or temples, and changes in sensation (such as numbness/tingling, changes in taste and smell, ringing in the ears, or even changes in speech).
Unlike headaches, migraines often involve only one side of the head, although the pain may encompass both sides.
The severity of pain with migraines is also typically more intense than with headaches, occasionally leading the sufferer to seek out medical assistance in a hospital emergency department. A thorough medical history is required in order to diagnose a migraine.
Various factors can influence the development of migraines, including:
• Genetics (a family history of migraines)
• Gender – more frequent in women (possibly due to hormonal influences, such as birth control medications or menopause)
• Anxiety or stress
• Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor dietary habits (like missing meals), excessive caffeine consumption, food or chemical sensitivities, poor sleep, dehydration
• Environmental factors (changes in barometric pressure, loud noises, exposure to certain chemicals or irritants, certain medications)
Typically, a preventative approach is taken to the treatment of migraines. Some methods that are recommended include:
• Lifestyle changes, such as reducing caffeine and alcohol, eliminating possible trigger foods, and improving sleep hygiene
• Improving stress management
• Certain prescription medications
Some medications may also be recommended to manage migraine symptoms, should one occur, such as nausea and pain medications.
If a combination of these management techniques is not providing sufficient relief from your symptoms, onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) may be a good option.