Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Headache or migraine?

I often get headaches, especially if I am tired. With them I often also have sensitivity to light that is associated with migraines, and of course, sensitivity to sound which, I'm pretty sure is typical of any headache, migraine or not. They don't usually last more than 6 to 8 hours, usually starting in the mid-afternoon and going away once I fall asleep. (Unless I take coffee and pain-killers).

So while I've never really considered that I suffered from migraines, I have wondered about it, since my mother suffers from them. Are my headaches actually migraines? I read somewhere that if what you have is a migraine, you don't wonder if it is more than a headache, you KNOW it is. So I figured it must not be since I'm not feeling debilitating pain. Apparently this is a myth and you might have them and not know it.

But recently I've noticed I can tell when one is coming on and take coffee and a pain-killer right away to avoid the pain, and even more recently, I've been feeling dizzy as well and even getting nausea. And a couple of times recently, I've actually woken up with a headache.

So I decided to look this up, wondering especially if nausea isn't a symptom of a migraine, (it is) and found this questionnaire: Symptoms Checklist

They say:

It's estimated that 1 in 10 people experience migraine and yet many don't realise that this common condition is the cause of their suffering. If you are to find effective relief it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Although there are no medical tests that can detect the presence of migraine, your doctor will use a checklist of questions to confirm whether or not you are one of 6 million people in the UK who suffer from migraine.

So I could be suffering from migraines and not realize it after all? It must be what my mother calls a "mild" migraine if it is one, because I'm not lying down in a darkened room for 3 days when I get one. Although, come to think of it, neither was my mother. Not all the time. She didn't have a choice though, with young ones running about. Come to think of it, neither do I. If I did have a choice, most of the time, I WOULD go to bed. I DO remember times it was so bad my mother did go to bed though, and her migraines usually lasted for 3 days.

Here is the checklist: (My answers are in bold)

1
2-3
4 or more



Yes
No



Less than 4 hours
4-24 hours
25-48 hours
2-4 days



Stress & emotional upsets
Over exertion (Actually, lack of sleep would be closer to the truth)
Certain foods
Hormonal factors
(and staring at a computer screen too long will do it too.)


Yes
No



Yes (Although I don't know if it is as bad as some.)
No



Yes (but only recently)
No



Yes
No



Yes
No



Yes (I guess a bit)
No



Yes
No (Well I do get that sometimes, but I don't think it is in connection to a headache)



Yes (Kind of depends on what kind of movement)
No



Yes (It is definitely harder, although I am by no means incapacitated)
No



Yes
No

They also say:

Anyone who suffers from migraine will tell you that it’s no ordinary headache. “It can be excruciating. Agony. You feel like you’ve been hit with a sledgehammer.”

I can't say it's ever been that bad for me. Not sledgehammer bad. But maybe I have a higher pain threshold? Or maybe I just don't get migraines. Do regular headaches give one nausea and sensitivity to light and sound etc,. too?

And then again:

“My migraines started when I was 19 years old. Symptoms would include extreme tiredness and a slight headache followed by nausea."

This person only got a slight headache. That sounds more like me, extremely tired, but the headache is more than slight.