June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
If the agony and abruptness of severe headaches causes you to cancel plans with friends, skip important appointments, and miss out on special moments, the problem is not all in your head. You may be suffering from a migraine headache, which can lead to painful migraine symptoms throughout your body. To bring greater understanding and address any stigma head-on, the month of June is recognized as National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. More than 37 million men, women, and children across the United States face the debilitating pain of migraines. In fact, migraines have been named one of the 10 most disabling conditions worldwide by the World Health Organization. Whether you understand firsthand the misery of migraines or the topic is new to you, make the most of National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month by learning the difference between a migraine vs. headache, as well as the various migraine symptoms, and treatments for migraine relief. With greater understanding, migraines can hopefully become much less of a pain.
What are migraines?
If you think there’s little in a migraine vs. headache, think again. Migraines are chronic, inherited neurological disorders that cause certain areas of the brain to get overexcited. A migraine typically starts with a trigger, which is a sensory factor that raises the risk of having a migraine attack. Most people aren’t bothered by these triggers, but those susceptible to migraines are sensitive to these stimuli and soon feel the unbearable effects of a migraine start to develop. These triggers range from hormonal fluctuations and weather changes to bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, certain foods, and sudden stress. When one of these stimuli is sensed, it prompts the brain to release chemicals that increase blood flow around the brain, which leads to the excruciating pain of a migraine.
Symptoms of suffering from migraines
A migraine headache can strike at any time and last anywhere from hours to days. Migraine symptoms are different for everyone and may appear one or two days before the headache even begins. It’s these agonizing symptoms that clearly distinguish the difference between a migraine vs. headache. A migraine may start as a dull ache that soon develops into pounding pain that is moderate to severe. The pain may be felt on one or both sides of your head, with many people experiencing pain over their eyes, temples, sinuses, or jaw. The most common migraine symptoms include:
- Throbbing, pulsating head pain that lasts from four to 72 hours
- Lowered ability to function
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling very warm or cold
- Blurry vision
- Seeing flashes of light, known as auras
- Pale skin color
When to head to the doctor
Fewer than 50% of people who suffer from migraines ever see a doctor for treatment. But, you don’t need to put up with painful or constant migraines when your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor can offer you real relief. How do you know when it’s time to make an appointment? Don’t delay in scheduling an appointment if you experience any of the following:
- Agonizing headaches that disrupt your daily activities, family and social life, or work productivity.
- Headaches that have become more severe or frequent than usual.
- Headaches that have worsened or stopped responding to over-the-counter medications.
- Headaches that come on suddenly.
- Headaches that affect your vision or cause seizures.
- Head pain accompanied by confusion, fainting, trouble speaking, or difficulty walking.
- A desire to stop suffering and start happily enjoying your life.
Whether you’re facing one of these signs or dealing with all of them, talk to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to discuss your treatment options and take the misery out of your migraines.
Migraine treatments that you can count on
While migraines cannot be cured, they can be managed so you experience them less often and soothe symptoms as soon as they strike. However, just as each person has different symptoms, treatments differ for everyone as well and depend on several factors, such as the frequency of your headaches, the severity of the pain, your age, the migraine symptoms, and your personal medical history. With the right information about you, your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor can develop a personalized treatment plan to provide you with migraine relief. Treatments often include a combination of the following remedies:
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Prescription migraine medications taken every day to prevent attacks
- Prescription medications that ease migraine symptoms
- Avoidance of migraine triggers
- Stress management techniques
- Changes to your diet
- Biofeedback relaxation methods
- Migraine surgery for severe cases
During National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, show your support to the many sufferers of migraines by getting involved in community events and spreading awareness to helps others see why migraines can be a real headache.