Migraines vs. Headaches: What You Need To Know

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To the outside world, migraine sufferers are usually viewed as overly sensitive people with headaches. People who have never had a migraine do not understand the difference between migraines and headaches and the impact that migraines can have on those afflicted. Whether you suffer from migraines or know someone who is or you simply want more information, these are some things about migraines vs. headaches and what you need to know.

Education is the best tool to raise awareness to the difference between headaches and migraines

Most people will have a headache at some point in their life. They are extremely common and can be taken care of with little effort. Tension headaches are the most common form of a headache. Muscles tighten up and cause your head to hurt. Relax the muscles and the tension are released along with a headache. Headaches can suck, no doubt about it. Sometimes it can really knock you down. If you’ve had a bad headache, you can relate. Now, let me open your eyes to a migraine.

Migraine Symptoms

First off, headaches are just ONE symptom of a migraine. It’s the symptom that is most widely known and therefore, the assumption is that’s all there is to it. Migraines are far more involved and can be extremely debilitating depending on their severity. Some migraine sufferers may only get the headaches along with a few other minor symptoms while others have such severe attacks that it lands them in the hospital. Some symptoms include:

Common Symptoms –

  • Visual disturbances
  • Pain in your face and neck
  • Numbness in your face and neck
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and smells
  • Diarrhea

Less common symptoms–

  • Pain all over your body (whole body migraine)
  • And this lovely tidbit: Certain types of migraines can mimic a stroke

To get a better idea of what happens during a migraine, the Mayo Clinic has a very good video that I would recommend you take a moment to watch (it’s not very long).

To be clear, I am not a doctor, nurse or any other healthcare professional. What I am is a migraine sufferer and have been for as long as I can remember. And I am now having to witness one of my daughters go through it, too. Her migraines started when she was almost six. My heart broke the first time she came to me with that look on her face of confusion and pain. She didn’t know what was happening to her. She quietly told me she didn’t feel good and asked to lie down in my bed. I asked her if she wanted to watch something on t.v. and in a whisper, she told me no, asked me to turn the light off and buried herself under the covers. She just turned seven and has had four migraines in the last year.

Migraine Awareness

Migraine awareness is so important to me because I don’t want my daughter being told “it’s just a headache” and “get over it”. I can talk all day about my experiences, about all the CT scans, the MRIs, the hospital stays, and about the intense pain that can last for days. I don’t want that for her. I don’t want that for anyone. But should it happen to her as it has for me and millions of other people, I don’t want her to have to fight the stigma that it’s just a headache?

June is Migraine Awareness Month. Help raise awareness. Share this article, get involved and share your stories.

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