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Headache or Migraine?

Do You Know The Difference?

Here’s how to tell….

Hello my lovely, today we are going to be talking about headaches v migraines and the differences between the 2 to keep an eye out for.

When you have a pain in your head, it can be quite difficult to determine if its a headache or a migraine.  Knowing the difference between a traditional headache and a migraine headache can help you get the relief that you need.  And also allow you to determine the cause so you can help prevent them in the future.

What is a Traditional Headache?

According to the NHS website, over 10 million people in the UK get headaches regularly – now that is a lot of people suffering with head pain!

Headaches are unpleasant pains and/or pressure in your head or neck areas.  They can vary from mild to severe, however most headaches are generally mild to moderate, and can last from 30 mins to a week.  They usually occur on both sides of your head.  Quite often pain can be found around the back of your neck, around your temple areas and your forehead.  They generally occur without warning signs. Most headaches aren’t serious and can be easily-treated.  with a simple process of popping an over-the-counter tablet such as aspirin or paracetamol.  However it is always a good idea to have a look at your lifestyle if you are getting regular headaches and checking your water intake, sleep intake and stress levels and get checked with your doctor,

There are many types of headaches with the most common being Tension Headaches, which tend to feel like you have a tight bad around your head and it aches on both sides. These are commonly caused by poor diet, dehydration, tension, stress, anxiety and muscle strain.  Other types of headaches you may have head of are Cluster Headaches, Hangover headaches (doh!) and Hormone Headaches,

There are many causes of headaches as listed above but other reasons could include head Injuries or concussion, alcohol, cold or flu, temporomandibular disorders (problems affecting the “chewing” muscles and the joints between the lower jaw and the base of the skull), sinuses, sleep apnea.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is usually classified as moderate to severe and is quite often only on one side of the head, however it is possible to have a migraine that affects both sides of the head.  Generally migraine sufferers will also have other symptoms including sensitivity to light or sound, vomiting or the feeling of nausea, pain behind one eye or ear, pain in the temples, temporary vision loss.  Migraines affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men and quite often start in early adulthood.  They make performing everyday tasks very difficult.

There are 3 main types of migraines

  1. Migraine with Aura – where there are specific warnings before the start of a migraine such as seeing flashing lights or unusual lines, tingling or numbness in the hands or face, an unusual taste, smell or touch
  2. Migraine without Aura – where the migraine starts without any warning signs
  3. Migraine aura without headache – These are sometimes called silent migraines, where an aura or other symptoms appear but you don’t have the headache (I occasionally suffer with these – flashing lights that start in one eye, then move to the other, then go away!)

Sometimes sufferers may suffer with symptoms 24-48hrs before the actual migraine starts including constipation, depression, frequent yawning, irritability, neck stiffness, unusual food cravings.  This phase is known as Prodrome.

Migraines can occur frequently – as in several times a week – or sometimes you may go months or years in between migraines.  The cause of a migraine can be varied.  Common triggers are hormones, stress, food or drink, starting their period and tiredness.  Each migraine sufferer will be different and keeping a migraine diary is important to try and work out if there is any particular cause for you.

If you are suffering with regular headaches or migraines, please do go and see your doctor for more guidance.  There is currently no known cure for migraines.

Managing Your Headaches and Migraines

However holistic and alternative treatments can help you to manage both your headaches and/or migraines very effectively.  My suggestions include

  • Completing a Migraine Diary
  • Reflexology
  • Massage
  • EFT
  • Bach Flowers
  • Nutrition and dietary changes
  • Supplements including magnesium/manuka honey/fever few/
  • Stress Management
  • Essential Oils – Peppermint, Lavender and Ginger may help relieve tension headaches
  • Detox bath with Epsom Salts

If you would like to see if using holistic treatments may help your headaches and migraines, please do get in touch with me on 07966 162046.


Sarah x

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