Am I getting Migraines or headaches?

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Hello all,

I really need help trying to figure out if I am suffering from Migraines or headaches.

When I read the symptoms to both of those conditions I have some symptoms from each. Really hope someone can help?

Basically my symptoms are:

Dull achy pain across the whole of the top of my head and it starts to fade once it gets to my forehead. its very painful.

Light and sound exasperate the pain

I feel very tired and drained

Sometimes feel nauseous and hot

It does not go away until I have a full nights sleep

I have no Visually aura symptoms or warnings that it will happen. It just starts with a slight headache pain around the top of my head then gets worse.

I tend to get them during the night, like I will wake up during the night with the headache and fall back to sleep only to wake up with it still there and it lasts until the next night when it goes away after a long sleep.

Sometimes it starts from stress or not eating breakfast. Or if I have dyed my hair.

The pain is like a dull pain but very painful and the fact light and noise make it worse and I feel sometimes hot .and nauseous mean I can not fulfil my daily tasks and have to go to bed in a dark room.

I have had this for about 20 years and I am in my 30s.

Most pain revilers dont work.

Anyone help me figure out if these are migraines or headaches or what type of headaches. I can not be part migraine and part headache, it has to be only one or the other right?

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Sounds like a classic migraine, the fact you've had them for about 20 years and don't respond to pain killers. See your GP about getting a preventative medicine and also something for the pain relief such as sumatriptan. You may have to trial a few different ones until you find one which works for you. Good luck.

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  • Posted

    Yes...it does sound like classic migraine.  I take Rizatriptan 10mg ODT at the onset of a headache/migraine.....that is very important taking it as soon as you start to feel one coming on......otherwise harder for it to work.  The Rizatriptan ODT you put on or under tongue...dissolves quicker into your system. 

    I wish you well....migraines are no fun......but they can be controlled with the right meds.

    Wendy

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  • Posted

    Hi Mike,

    It's always been my understanding that there are two types of migraine: classic (with aura, and usually one-sided) and common (no aura). I had the latter type for about 50 years, and can assure you there's no "hierarchy" of suffering between the two types. The common kind can make you just as ill as the classic.

    If you're in the UK (and possibly the US) just tell your doctor honestly about your symptoms, and I'm sure you'll get the pain relief you need. Unfortunately, the classification of common migraine isn't recognised in all countries, but I know it is in the UK.

    I was always woken by my headaches around 5am. They would initially be in a sort of "headband" position across the front and top of my head, with a sensation of my head being squeezed. They would gradually move backwards over the sides of my head. I always knew that once I started getting earache I was in for the duration. The longest I ever had lasted four days! I had no sensitivity to light but sounds would reverberate painfully in my ears. In the worst attacks, the slightest movement - even of my eyes - would provoke nausea and vomiting. Unlike most classic migraine sufferers, I couldn't tolerate lying flat during these attacks as that would increase the throbbing and pounding in my head. I'd have to prop myself in a sitting position in bed for the duration.

    I'm guessing now that they were stress-related, as they stopped overnight when I retired from paid employment seven years ago! Since then I've done a fairly taxing voluntary job, but I've only had a few mild headaches in that period.

    In most English-speaking countries doctors will prescribe medication for common migraines. I had the misfortune to move to a continental European country when I was young, soon after the onset of my migraines. I was told by the doctors that "common migraine" wasn't accepted as a diagnosis here, and I should take paracetamol as I didn't have an aura before the headaches. Anyone who's ever had one of these common migraines will know just how ridiculous that suggestion is!

    The only temporary relief I ever got was when my dentist prescribed high-dose naproxen (an NSAID) to get me through a course of very painful treatment. I discovered that this was fantastic for my headaches too. However, when I asked my GP if she could prescribe it I got the usual answer: no because I didn't have "proper" migraines. Ironically, in recent years lower-dose naproxen has gone off-prescription here (and in the UK as well I think) and my latest GP informs me that medical thinking about common migraines has also changed in French-speaking countries. Both since my migraines ended spontaneously, so too late for me!

    Interestingly, two months ago, at the age of 73, I suddenly experienced my first-ever migraine aura! It was the scintillating scotoma of classic migraine, and lasted half an hour or so. Frightened the life out of me for a couple of minutes - I thought I was having a stroke! Thank goodness for the internet. I soon found out that this can happen and that, as in my case, these late-onset auras are rarely followed by an actual headache.

    Try seeing your doctor about your headaches. They clearly aren't a symptom of any neurological disease if you've had them for such a long time. (I'm a former neuro nur se by the way, albeit from a long way back.) And don't let anyone tell you that don't know the meaning of suffering just because you don't have classic migraines!

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  • Posted

    Thanks for all your replies. They are very helpful. I am in the UK, I will ask my GP about them and hope to find some medication to help and also find out EXACTLY what type of Migraine or Headache I get. 

    ANyone found anything herbal or natural thats helped?

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    • Posted

      No to that last question Mike. I'll always favour natural remedies of some kind over orthodox medicine, and I've had good results from treating symptoms of my autoimmune condition with homeopathy. However, I tried dozens of homeopathic remedies over the years for migraines and none of them made the slightest difference.

      By all means try homeopathy or acupuncture, both of which do seem to help some migraine sufferers, but please stay well away from "herbal" remedies - particularly herbal mixtures and teas. Some of these are downright dangerous and have caused a few deaths in the UK.

      I'm sure your GP will help, but if he/she won't, you could always ask your pharmacist for the lower-dose version of naproxen, which is available OTC. The trade name over here is Apranax but I'm not sure what brand names they use in the UK. The higher-dose tablets worked like a dream for my migraines but I never got to try the lower dose OTC tablets. By the time they'd come off prescription here, my migraines had already stopped.

      Just as a PS, 30 years ago I worked with a woman here in Belgium who regularly got both types of migraine, but on separate occasions. As she was officially entitled to migraine relief tablets for her classic migraine, she took them for both types and said they were equally effective for both. She always reckoned the pain of the common migraines was worse than the classic type. This may answer your original question too. You could be suffering from both types, like my colleague.

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    • Posted

      Hello again Mike

      A friend of mine recently sent me article that going on a Ketogenic diet is able to reduces migraines

      You can google Ketogenic diet for migraines to get more information.  I hope that will help.  I too would rather take natural remedies.

      Thanks for your info Lily.  Taking the Rizatriptan usually works for me...but if I don't take it ontime it's awful and sometimes end up in the ER as pain is so bad and can't sleep and vomiting. Have not tried the Keto diet yet.

      Wendy

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  • Posted

    Thanks for the reply. 

    I hope the pharmacist will give me a lower-dose version of naproxen. 

    Who knows what type I get, maybe I get a couple of different types of migraines. 

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    • Posted

      As a pharmacist and a migraine sufferer, I find the most helpful treatment to be immediate treatment. Try to take your pain killer as soon as the headache hits you. I personally keep a bottle of extra strength Acetaminophen in my night stand and when the headache wakes me up in the middle of the night, I take 2 right away. The advantage of Acetaminophen is that it doesnt bother you if you take on an empty stomach. You can then repeat or take Ibuprofen or Naproxen during the day with food. Also watch out for foods or drinks that may trigger your migraines (soda, MSG, cheese, wine, etc.)

      Good luck! 

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