Headaches aren't Migraines... But Migraines are BIG HEADACHES!

If you've started reading this article, it's probably because you're tired of that intense headache that gives you a break, right? And you're worried that you might be suffering from migraines... Are we right again?

Let's put it this way: not all headaches are migraines, but migraines are BIG HEADACHES!

But don't worry - in this article, Dr.Online® will explain everything you need to know about this condition and how it can help you.

To begin this screening, it's important to understand two differences:

Pain Intensity

Headaches are often characterized by mild to moderate pain, which can be felt on both sides of the head.

Migraines, on the other hand, are more intense and typically occur on one side of the head, with the pain often described as throbbing and even debilitating.

Duration of discomfort

Headaches usually last a few hours, but can persist for days if left untreated.

In contrast, migraines can last from 4 to 72 hours, with varying levels of pain during this period.

So... what are Migraines anyway?

Migraines, as we have said, are not just headaches. They are complex neurological conditions that can have debilitating effects on sufferers.

Although the exact cause of migraines is still unknown, researchers believe it involves chemical changes in the brain and blood vessels.

As we saw above, one of the main characteristics of migraines is their intensity. The pain associated with migraines is often described as unbearable and is usually felt on one side of the head. It can last up to several days, making it difficult for people to carry out their normal daily activities.

In addition to severe headaches, migraines can also be accompanied by other symptoms. These can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision, dizziness and even tingling or numbness in certain parts of the body.

It's important to note that not everyone experiences all of these symptoms during a migraine attack. In fact, it's normal for each person to have their own unique combination of symptoms.

Understanding these symptoms is crucial because early diagnosis and correct treatment can help reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

But bear in mind that each individual's experience with migraines can vary (and a lot), so it's essential to seek personalized medical advice in order to obtain a diagnosis and treatment that suits your needs.

But what are the real symptoms of Migraines?

A severe headache typically affecting one side of the head - which can last for hours or even days - is not the only symptom of migraine. It is "only" its most common manifestation or symptom.

In addition to intense pain, migraine sufferers often experience other physical symptoms, which can include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision and dizziness. Some people also describe visual disturbances, such as seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines, called auras.

What causes migraines?

Migraines are a complex neurological condition that can be triggered by various factors. Although the exact cause of migraines is still not fully understood, researchers have identified several potential causes that contribute to the development of these disabling headaches.

One possible cause of migraines is genetics. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of migraines are more likely to experience them. This suggests that there may be certain genetic variations or mutations that make some people more susceptible to migraines.

Another factor that can contribute to migraines is hormonal changes. Many women report experiencing migraines during certain phases of their menstrual cycle, suggesting a link between hormones and migraine attacks. Fluctuations in oestrogen levels can trigger chemical changes in the brain, leading to the onset of a migraine.

In addition, imbalances in brain chemicals such as serotonin have also been implicated in the development of migraines. Serotonin helps regulate pain signals in the brain, and when levels drop too low or vary significantly, migraine episodes can be triggered.

Other potential causes include environmental factors such as bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, and even changes in the weather. Stress and emotional triggers can also play a role in triggering migraines for some individuals.

Understanding these possible causes is crucial to finding effective treatment strategies and managing migraine symptoms effectively. By identifying and avoiding specific triggers for each individual case, it becomes possible to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

What are the most common migraine triggers ?

O stress is the biggest trigger for many individuals, as tension and anxiety can cause the blood vessels in the brain to constrict, leading to migraine episodes.

Another common trigger is changes in sleep patterns or lack of sleep. When our bodies don't get enough rest, the inevitable disruption to the delicate balance of chemicals in our brains can potentially trigger migraines. Hormonal fluctuations also play a significant role in triggering migraines, especially for women who may experience them around their menstrual cycle.

Certain foods and drinks are also known to trigger migraines. These include aged cheeses, processed meats containing nitrates or nitrites, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol (especially red wine) and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Environmental factors such as bright lights or strong odors can also act as triggers for migraines. In addition, climatic changes such as sudden drops in barometric pressure or high levels of humidity have been associated with an increased risk of migraine attacks.

Identifying your personal triggers is absolutely crucial for a correct diagnosis and effective management of migraines. Keeping a written daily record of your symptoms and potential triggers is not only the first step towards a correct diagnosis, it is also the best way to prepare yourself to avoid them and take all preventative measures.

When should I see a doctor to treat migraines?

While occasional migraines can often be managed with over-the-counter painkillers and lifestyle changes, there are certain signs and symptoms that may indicate the need for professional intervention.

One of the key indicators is an increase in the frequency or severity of your migraines. If you notice that your headaches are becoming more frequent or intense, it's time to consult a health professional, who will recommend the most appropriate treatment options.

Another warning sign is if your migraine symptoms suddenly change or get worse. For example, if you start to experience new neurological symptoms, such as difficulty speaking or weakness on one side of your body, this could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition and should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately.

It is also important to seek medical help if your migraines significantly interfere with your daily life or more mundane activities. If you feel incapacitated due to the intensity of the pain or other associated symptoms, it is wise to consult a doctor who can advise you on how to manage these disorders.

In addition, if measures such as rest, hydration and attempts at stress reduction do not provide sufficient relief from your migraines, it is inevitable that you will need to involve a healthcare professional who can explore treatments using medication prescribed specifically for migraine management.

Remember that each person's experience of migraines is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, seeking personalized advice from a health specialist is crucial to finding effective solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Never ignore persistent headache patterns, as they may indicate underlying health problems. Don't suffer in silence - contact a healthcare professional if you suspect you are experiencing migraines, as with the right support and care, you will find relief from this chronic condition.

With Dr.Online®, the days of traveling and queuing in waiting rooms to get medical care are over.

Take advantage of the convenience and flexibility offered by our telemedicine platform, from the comfort and privacy of your own home or workplace.


Stay informed, stay healthy and don't hesitate to book a Migraine Consultation to clear up all your doubts and get a treatment plan if necessary

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