Despite the fact the two are frequently used interchangeably, there is a huge difference between a migraine and a headache. This tends to lead to a lot of confusion, to the point that migraineurs (the term used to describe a migraine sufferer) can begin to feel misunderstood.

It’s important to try and correct the misconceptions that surround migraines for two reasons.

  1. It can help you understand someone in your life if they are a migraineur.
  2. It can help you identify the difference between a migraine and a headache in your own life. They require very specific types of treatment and management. A headache can be dealt with relatively simply. On the other hand, a migraine requires more complex management; you can read more here if this is an area you decide you need to explore.

So what do migraineurs want the general populace to know about their condition?

#1 – A Migraine Is Not “A Bad Headache”

If a headache is really bad, you’ll hear people begin to describe it as a migraine. In reality, it’s just a bad headache – a migraine is a totally separate thing.

Research is ongoing, but migraines are currently believed to be a kind of vascular event which impacts the blood vessels in the brain. This does cause a severe headache, leading to the kind of confusion of the term – but that’s not all it does.

In fact, it’s possible to have a migraine and not have a headache at all. They’re a total body event. The head pain is the best-known symptom of migraines, but it’s far from the only one.

#2 – There’s A Lot Of Symptoms… So Give Migraineurs A Break!

If someone takes time off work and labels their reason as being a migraine, someone not in-the-know about the difference may be dismissive. Everyone has to go to work with a headache, right?

Well, as discussed, a migraine is much more. For a start, it tends to cause a condition called gastric stasis, which means the digestive system grinds to a halt when a migraine is present. That leads to nausea, constipation, and diarrhea – not to mention it can make it difficult to absorb medication to help ease the migraine! That’s why a lot of migraine treatments are under-the-tongue; it’s to bypass the halted GI system.

Other symptoms of a migraine include fatigue, tremors, emotional symptoms like increased stress or anxiety, brain fog, visual disturbances, confusion, and even temporary paralysis. It’s a big deal.

#3 – The Pain Is Bad

It’s not a bad headache; it’s extremely bad pain, that just happens to be in the head. There’s a big difference.

A classic migraine tends to only be in one half of the head – this is the easiest way of distinguishing them from “normal” headaches. The pain is made worse by movement and bright light; that’s why many migraineurs seek shelter in a darkened room. It can be excruciatingly painful.

#4 – Migraines Take Awhile To Recover From

It’s not a case of pop a few pills and be back on your feet, as with a normal headache. Migraines have a phase called postdrome, which is effectively “the aftermath of the pain”. Gastric stasis continues, and deep fatigue and a “flu-like” feeling sets in – and this can last up to three days.

If any of this sounds familiar, go and speak to a doctor – migraines can’t be cured, but they can be managed.

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Karla Bond

As a full-time career oriented mother of one, I love to chat and write about topics that matter to me in my life. My day has to starts with a cup of joe and usually ends with exhaustion. I have a passion for cross stitching and of course spending time with the kiddo. I am always on the look out for topics to write about like recipes, healthy living, and products I find fascinating.

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