Woman suffering from migraine


Understanding Migraines

Headaches are a common feature of modern life, but sometimes your head pain can be more than just a passing inconvenience.

Migraines are moderate to severe headaches that follow certain patterns and that often do not respond to conventional over-the-counter pain medication. Migraine headaches may require more specialized medicines to deal with head pain and related symptoms.

If you’re wondering what is a migraine regarding your symptoms, here are some important facts you should know.

Migraine vs. Headache

What is a migraine and what is an ordinary headache can be confusing. Both migraines and headaches may involve head pain, neck stiffness, and irritability.

However, a migraine may have additional symptoms, such as an “aura” of feeling unwell 30 to 45 minutes before the head pain begins, and nausea or vomiting. Individuals sometimes see flashing lights before a migraine or unusual lines in their field of vision. Individuals may have numbness or tingling in the face or hands. They may have an unusual taste in the mouth or experience odd smells or tactile sensations. Some people experience food cravings or depression before a migraine.

Generally, in the migraine vs. headache question, the location on one side of the head and additional accompanying symptoms indicates a migraine. A recognizable pattern in when the head pain occurs can also help to diagnose migraine headaches.

Types of Migraines

The common types of migraines can have many different features that put them into different categories.

  • The “classical” migraine sufferer experiences the “aura” before the pain begins and may have visual disturbances, vertigo, or other physical symptoms.
  • The “common” migraine does not include the “aura,” but with visual symptoms, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain that can interfere with an individual’s everyday activities.
  • Chronic migraine may occur multiple times per month, for three months or more. Brainstem aura migraine involves problems with vision, speech problems, dizziness, and severe sensitivity to sound.
  • A hemiplegic migraine causes paralysis on one side of the body for up to 72 hours.
  • Menstrual migraine occurs a few days before menstruation and may be accompanied by other types of migraines.
  • Ocular migraines can cause temporary vision loss. Vestibular migraine causes a spinning sensation that can last for several hours.

Treatment Options

Numerous treatment options are available for individuals who suffer from frequent migraine headaches. Such migraine treatment options include:

  • Pain relievers that combine aspirin, Tylenol, and caffeine can be helpful.
  • Triptans are medications that are effective for some people with migraines.
  • Dihydroergotamine in nasal spray or injectable form can help when a migraine has already begun.
  • Anti-nausea medications can also be helpful for those with troubling nausea and vomiting.
  • Opioid pain medication is sometimes used, but these drugs are highly addictive.

New treatments for migraine headaches are being developed currently. For example, one new treatment is a band work on the head that delivers electrical stimulation to reduce pain and other symptoms.

Botox for Migraines

One of the newer treatments for migraines involves Botox injections that are administered at various points in the head and neck at 12-week intervals.

The Botox injections work by blocking the pain signals that occur with migraines. The treatment can help to reduce the frequency of migraines and allow individuals to continue their usual activities more effectively. Results of Botox for migraines can be seen as early as two to three weeks after the first treatment.


If you are wondering about the migraine vs. headache diagnosis, or need more effective treatment options, make an appointment with your doctor. Today’s treatments for migraine headaches can help you to manage your pain and allow you to continue your normal activities.