Headache or Migraine?

Headaches can be debilitating. But how does a person know when to seek treatment and when to go to bed early and sleep it off? When is it grounds for an afternoon off, and when should you head to the doctor?

Knowing what sort of headache you have can give you a big head start on minimizing the pain and, most importantly, avoiding headaches in the future.

Key Differences between 


and Migraine

1. Migraine headaches come with more severe pain.

2. Migraine headaches cause throbbing pain, while a more mundane tension headache causes more of a distracting tightness.

3. Migraine headaches are usually on one side of the head only, while a simple headache is often on the whole head.

4. Migraine headaches are accompanied by more severe symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and auras.

People who experience migraines generally know what they’re experiencing. The symptoms are much more pronounced than those that come with a common headache. Also, migraines typically happen in four stages, which sufferers tend to be able to pinpoint quite accurately.

The Four Stages of a Migraine Headache 

Stage One:  PRODROME

This is the pre-headache or warning phase. Migraine sufferers often sense instinctively that a migraine is coming. Subtle changes may occur in the body as the migraine sets in, from constipation to drowsiness. They may even be as severe as diarrhea and depression.


Peppermint oil is a great way to stave off a migraine. Apply to the forehead and temples or the back of the neck. Only  therapeutic, very high quality oils will have this effect. Common health-food store varieties won’t be as effective. Acupuncture has also been shown to prevent migraines by increasing blood flow. 


Stage Two: AURA

Aura is the most distinct sign that the pain in your head is indeed a migraine and not a common tension headache. People who have experienced it will recognize it. Typically it is a disturbance in vision, which might look like a fuzzy spot in your vision, a bright, dark or coloured spot or even fuzzy lines. Parts of the visual cortex are activated, which causes a person to lose normal visual function, even partial loss of vision.

This phase generally lasts for 10-30 minutes. Not all migraine headaches come with aura, so just because you don’t experience this doesn’t mean you haven’t got a migraine. Some migraines come with other sensual disturbances, such as tingling in the nerves or muscle weakness.


At this point, phase three is inevitable. However, sufferers are not powerless. Read on. 


Stage Three: ATTACK

This is the actual aching head phase. It can happen at the same time as the auras that come in stage two, which may happen with or without a headache. This phase lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Migraines usually involve a throbbing pain on one side of the head, but can affect the whole head at once.


Tapping is an effective natural pain relief method. It involves tapping on the body’s meridian points, thereby taking the body out of the inevitable “fight or flight” response to pain and stress and allowing it to relax and let blood flow. 



Postdrome is the recovery phase. You may feel a little drained. A migraine is quite an ordeal, so your body will be tired after. Let it have what it needs: 20 www.whatdoctorsknow.com

sleep, plenty of water and wholesome food. Almost all sickness in the body can be traced back to what we put into our bodies. Treat your body well and it will treat you well in return.


Sleep as much as you need. Fill up on fresh salads, fresh fruits and lots of fluids. Drink water regularly throughout the day to give your body a chance to filter out any toxins. Lack of restorative sleep has been shown to increase the frequency of migraines. If your lifestyle doesn’t allow for enough sleep, you may need to change your habits in order to avoid future pain.

How to Prevent Headaches and Migraines

Most people believe that migraines are not curable once they come on, but much can be done in terms of prevention. Much of it has to do with basic lifestyle choices. Your level of stress, exercise, the amount of water you drink daily, and the number of hours you sleep all have an enormous influence on your physical health.

Talk to your doctor about seeing a specialist if the problem is recurring. Many health insurance plans are beginning to cover treatments from naturopaths, homeopaths and other natural therapists, who can offer the tools you need to free yourself from headaches forever. Headaches needn’t be a lifelong affliction. Take control of your health before it takes control of you!

-This information provided courtesy of Pacific Prime Insurance 

Common Symptoms Associated with Migraine

The following symptoms are commonly associated with migraine headache, but less so with common tension headache. Migraine sufferers may experience some but rarely all of these symptoms. Just because you don’t have all the symptoms doesn’t mean you should write off what you’re feeling as a common headache. Any one symptom may be an early warning sign to start preparing your body for what’s ahead. 

  • Drowsiness or Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling too cold or too hot
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness

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