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Signs Your Headache Is a Migraine

When you’re suffering from a bad headache, it can be hard to know if it’s a migraine or not. At Boston PainCare, our care team wants to help patients in Waltham, Concord, and Natick, Massachusetts, find relief from head pain, whether it’s caused by a headache or migraine. The first step to finding relief is knowing whether you're suffering from a migraine or another type of headache.

Read on to find out if your headache is a migraine, and what you should do about it.

What are the signs of migraine?

Many people think of migraines as simply “really bad” headaches, but a headache is only one symptom of migraines. Migraines can be extremely disabling and cause head pain, nausea, fatigue, and more. 

Because migraines vary in both severity and duration, it can be helpful to understand the warning signs. Here are six signs to look for: 

1. Visual disturbances

You’re probably experiencing a migraine instead of a headache if you experience changes to your vision that precede or accompany the headache. The most common auras people experience are visual, like seeing flickering light, zig-zag lines, or spots.

Visual auras can last anywhere from five minutes to over an hour. Some people experience visual auras without ever getting a headache. This is known as an ocular migraine.  

2. Pain on one side of your head

While headache pain usually occurs on both sides of the head, the telltale sign of a migraine is throbbing, intense pain on one side of the head. If your headache pain is severe and located on one side, it could be a migraine.    

3. Changes in feeling or speech

Visual auras aren’t the only kind present with migraines. If you notice weakness, tingling, or even numbness on one side of the body in addition to your headache, you could be experiencing sensory aura with migraine. 

Some patients even notice their speech is impacted and have trouble recalling or understanding words. These are common signs of migraines and something you should mention to your provider at Boston PainCare.

4. Waves of nausea

Migraines can cause feelings of nausea, dizziness, and may even lead to vomiting. Research has found that your gut and gastrointestinal area are impacted during migraines, which may explain why tummy trouble is another sign of a migraine. 

5. Sensitivity to light and smell

If you’re noticing your headache is accompanied by sensitivity to light and smell, you could have a migraine. In fact, studies show this heightened sensitivity is so strong, many migraine patients seek refuge in dark, quiet rooms with closed doors. 

6. The worst pain ever — that won’t quit

Migraines can last from a few hours to several days. If you’re experiencing extreme pain too intense to ignore, it could be a migraine. A regular headache, on the other hand, doesn’t usually derail your life or last longer than a few hours.

What can I do about migraines?

If you think your headaches could be migraines, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from an experienced provider, like the team of board-certified physicians at Boston PainCare. We evaluate your medical history, symptoms, and conduct a physical exam to customize a treatment plan for your migraines. 

Using an integrative approach, we strive to get you relief from your migraine pain. Your migraine plan at Boston PainCare may include one or several of the following:

We also provide education about migraine prevention, helping you learn your triggers so you can live pain-free and minimize your need for different migraine medications.

To learn more about migraines and to find relief from the pain, contact the Boston PainCare office nearest you to schedule a consultation!

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