How Do I Know if My Headache Is a Migraine

Pain or pressure in your head makes it difficult to think, and your world becomes a bit dark. Understanding the type of headache one experiences helps direct treatment more efficiently and informs whether the headache is a temporary nuisance or a long-term problem.

What is a Headache?

Headaches are pesky, obnoxious pains in your head that cause aching and pressure. The pain often ranges from mild to severe and may occur on one or both sides of the head. Headaches typically occur on the forehead, temples, and back of the neck and can last from 30 minutes to more than a week.

Common Types of Headaches

The Mayo Clinic states that the most common headache is a tension headache. Triggers for tension headaches are muscle strains, stress, and anxiety.

Other types of headaches include cluster headaches that are brutally painful and happen on one side of the head and came in cycles. Sinus headaches occur with sinus infection symptoms and colds that have symptoms of stuffy nose cough congestion, fever, and facial pressure.

Chiari headaches are unusual. They are caused by a congenital disability known as a Chiari malformation. This disability causes your skull to push against part of your brain. This pressure causes pain in the back of your head.

Thunderclap headaches are severe headaches that develop quickly. This headache might be a symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a serious medical condition or an aneurysm, stroke, or injury. If you experience a thunderclap headache, call 911 immediately.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic condition that affects the trigeminal nerve or the nerve that carries messages from your face to your brain. With trigeminal neuralgia even brushing your teeth or putting on makeup may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.

At first, you may experience short and mild attacks. However, trigeminal neuralgia can progress and cause longer and more-frequent bouts of disabling pain.

Headache disorder treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah, can effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with surgery, injections, or noninvasive interventions, or medications.

What is a Migraine?

Migraine headaches typically affect only one side of the head; however, it is possible to have migraines that affect both sides of the head. One defining difference between migraines and other types of headaches is pain quality. Migraine headaches cause powerful pain that may be excruciating and make performing daily tasks extremely difficult.

Migraines are headaches that often include symptoms in addition to head pain.  Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Pain in the temples
  • Pain behind an eye
  • Pain behind your ear
  • Seeing flashing light or spots
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Vomiting

Migraines are divided into two categories: First, migraine with aura,  or second, migraine without aura. An aura is a “sensation, a personal experience” usually 10-30 minutes before a migraine occurs, and might include:

  • Feeling less mentally alert or an inability to make a decision
  • Experiencing flashing lights or lines
  • Feeling tingling in the hands or face
  • Numbness of the face or hands
  • Experiencing an unusual sense of smell, taste, or touch.

Although less common, some migraine sufferers experience different symptoms a day or so before an actual migraine. These are known as “prodrome phases,” and these signs may include:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Frequent yawning
  • Irritability
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Unusual food cravings.

Those who experience migraines report different triggers associated with migraines. Migraine causes may include emotional anxiety, contraceptives, alcohol, hormonal changes, lack of sleep or poor sleeping habits, poor diet, or menopause.


A tension headache often resolves with over-the-country treatments like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. Relaxation techniques such as heat therapy, massage, meditation, neck stretching, or relaxation exercises may also offer benefits.

However, if you suffer from migraines often, you might consider seeking information about headache disorder treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prevention is the best treatment for migraine headaches, and your doctors may recommend:

  • Diet changes
  • Medication such as antidepressants, blood pressure-lowering medicines, antiepileptic medication, or CGRP antagonists. CGRP antagonists or calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors block CGRP or a small protein that is widespread in the sensory nerves that supply sensations to the head and neck. CGRP is involved in pain transmission and levels increase during a migraine attack. CGRP inhibitors manage migraines.
  • Reduce stress

Headaches can range in severity from mild inconveniences to debilitation.  Once you identify your headache type, headache treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah, can prevent and minimize the chances of another headache episode.  Distinguishing migraines from other types of headaches requires tracking. Pay attention to the warning signs of an oncoming migraine and watch for sign of an aura.

If you frequently experience migraines, don’t suffer. Find headache disorder treatment in Salt Lake City Utah. To find out more about headaches or to see if you are a candidate for treatment, contact Evolve Medical in Holladay.