Your head hurts – that much you know.
But what sets a migraine apart from other types of headaches is that the pain is moderate to severe, often one-sided, throbbing, and accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and neurological symptoms like sensitivity to light, explains neurologist Stephen Silberstein.
But that’s just the beginning, Silberstein says.
There are many types of migraines – all of which are identified by their dominant symptom.
Knowing what’s going on with your head can put you on the road to being pain-free.
This type of migraine comes on fast and strong.
“If you have a sudden onset of an acute headache, consider it something bad until proven otherwise,” says Dr. Silberstein.
Not to scare you, but the “worst head pain of your life” can be a brain haemorrhage, for instance, he warns.
Seek emergency care, particularly if you’re a woman over 50 since you’re already at an increased risk for stroke.
If you feel like you’re off balance and couldn’t possibly walk a straight line, it may be a vestibular migraine.
This is characterized by symptoms of vertigo (dizziness) and very little headache, says Dr. Silberstein.
And it’s incredibly common – 40 percent of migraine sufferers have vestibular problems at one time, according to the nonprofit VeDA.
Unfortunately, in this case, it’s very easy to be misdiagnosed with vertigo (and not migraine). Make sure your doctor knows all of your symptoms.
The good news is that many of the medications that treat vertigo also treat migraines, says Dr. Silberstein.
Even if you have just one migraine a month, that can feel like too many.
But if you suffer headaches on 15 or more days a month, you have chronic migraines.
“These types of patients need to see a neurologist,” says Dr. Silberstein, adding that there are a number of medications and treatments that can restore comfort in your life (Botox being one of them).
It’s critical that you address the pain rather than live with it, as migraines affect everything from your social life to your romantic relationships, and your love life.