When do you know that a headache is actually a migraine?

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:21 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Headaches can develop due to many different reasons. The intensity of the headache can also vary, but when do you know that headache is actually a migraine? On this week’s Medical Monday, Megan Cole has more on how headaches and migraines differ.

A headache can happen at any time of the day. Stress and overuse of caffeine are two of many triggers.

“One of the more common things is medication overuse or caffeine overuse. Those would be the two most common things in America. Sometimes you can have headaches related to stress sometimes you can have headaches related to other medical disorders but sometimes you can have a headache for no particular reason at all.”

Brandon Howlett is a family nurse practitioner for Northern Light Primary Care in Presque Isle. He says that people will confuse migraines and headaches. He says migraines have more symptoms than headaches.

“Migraines typically like to follow one side or the other and then they usually have a pulsating, throbbing type quality. Headaches can just feel achy or you can get that throbbing sensation in the back of the neck but its usually not like right here on this one side. Migraines at least usually last between 4 and 72 hours and usually they’re accompanied with either sensitivity to light or sensitivity to sound and some people will nausea or vomiting with them.”

Howlett says both headaches and migraines can be treated with medications but with migraines there are also other procedures that have proved to be beneficial as well.

“Some people do benefit including in chronic headache disorders from occupational therapy so that’s one thing. It’s not very commonly used but people have been successfully treated with that. There are Botox procedures. Most people find those less favorable because they need to be repeated every 3 months in order to prevent the migraines. "

Those experiencing migraines are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.

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