There are really, really bad headaches and then there are migraines. As
a lifelong migraine sufferer, I
know a migraine is in my future because my body gives me advance warning
in the form of a dull headache the day before and bouts of blurred vision,
which are known as "aura."
According to Dr. Vernon Williams, a neurologist and director of the Kerlan-Jobe
Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic
Clinic in Los Angeles, "Headaches and migraines are caused when the
blood vessels, muscles, and nerves in the head are overstimulated. When
these pain-sensitive structures become overactive, or when chemical activity
in the brain is altered, we feel the uncomfortable sensations of a headache."
So, what differentiates a common headache from a migraine? There are some
very specific things that make migraines … migraines. Additionally,
if you think you may suffer from migraines, you can take this migraine
quiz and then seek the opinion and advice of a professional.
Dr. Williams acknowledged that basic headaches are noxious, telling me,
"A headache is an unpleasant sensation in any region of the head
or upper neck. It may appear as a dull ache, a throbbing feeling or a
sharp pain, and intensities of the pain vary with whatever is causing
it," he said. "Though most people associate a headache with
pain in the brain, the actual pain felt is stemming from the tissues that
surround the brain. A headache can be brief – lasting less than
an hour – or linger for several days."
But here's the essential takeaway — regular headache pain is
localized. There aren't additional symptoms in other parts of the
body, as is the case with migraines.
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