Posts Tagged ‘head pain’

Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Thursday, November 21st, 2013



Do you always know if your headaches are from tension or migraine? Both can occur from extreme stress and fatigue. To prevent rebound headache and find the best treatment possible, it’s important to know exactly what’s causing your headache to begin with. Here is a handy chart to help you understand the difference between migraine headaches and tension headaches.

Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Quick reference

  • Tension headaches, on the other hand, are primarily caused by stress and fatigue. Headaches from tense muscles are much easier to treat than migraines, as they respond to medication much better.
  • Migraines are a neurological disorder causing a vast array of symptoms, including debilitating head pain that last for hours, sometimes days. In addition, sufferers experience tiredness, nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and the need to vomit.

Pain type

Tension headache: Dull pressure, the sensation of a band strapped tightly across the head or neck. Pain is mild or moderate.

Migraine: Throbbing, intense pounding on one side of the head, often at the temple or eye areas. Pain is moderate to extreme, making it difficult to concentrate or think about anything else.

Location of pain

Tension headache: Scalp, forehead, neck, temples.

Migraine: Temples, eyes.

Pain duration

Tension headache: Pain increases and subsides over the course of the day, or for several days.

Migraine: Headache comes on strong, stays intense for hours. For people with chronic migraines, headaches return repeatedly- more than 15 times per month.

Comorbid symptoms

Tension headache: Insomnia, neck stiffness, stress.

Migraine: Sensitivity to lights (photophobia), scents, and noise; nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, vertigo, distorted speech, partial paralysis, feebleness, loss of consciousness, visual distortions.


Tension headaches: Stress, tiredness, bad posture, eye strain, hunger.

Migraine: Food ingredients, scents, noise, bright lights, weather, allergies, air pressure, stress, tension headaches, hunger, irregular sleep patterns, dehydration, cigarette smoke, hormonal fluctuations.

Warning signs

Tension headache: None.

Migraine: Prodrome phase that occurs hours before, causing symptoms such as euphoria, olfactory hallucinations, unusual cravings, and edginess. Minutes before, some migraineurs experience aura- strange visual disturbances and stroke-like symptoms.

Migraine Aura and Prodrome- What’s the Difference?


Most headache sufferers- from tension type and migraine combined- are female.


Tension headache: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually sufficient to get rid of a tension headache, although it may take a few days.

Migraine: There are many different types of migraines, so only your doctor can prescribe the best possible course of treatment for symptoms of migraine attacks.

There is no cure for migraine illness, but by using daily migraine preventative treatments, many are able to thwart off the majority of migraine headaches and symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

Popular natural herbs and vitamins for migraine help include PA-free butterbur root, magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10.

Also read:

Migraine Auras without Headache: Silent Migraines

Dealing with Nausea and Vomiting with Migraines

Abdominal Migraines- Because Migraines Are Not Always In Your Head!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Diagnosing Migraines- the Basic Symptoms

Monday, June 4th, 2012



How does one tell the difference between ordinary headaches and migraine headaches? In diagnosing migraines, your doctor may run a variety of tests and use specific diagnostic criteria. Here are some basic facts that help your healthcare provider distinguish between tension headaches and the worst migraines of your life…


Migraine symptoms

Any migraine sufferer can attest to the fact that migraines are about more than just a headache; a migraine attack may include a variety of debilitating ailments, in addition to excruciating head pain.

Typical symptoms of a migraine attack may include:

  • Pounding, long-lasting head pain
  • Sharp pain behind the eyes
  • Neck stiffness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights, scents, or loud noises
  • Fatigue


Here Comes a Migraine Attack- 20 Telltale Signs

“Migraines with aura” also cause:
  • Visual disturbances, such as bright flickering lights or blind spots
  • Vertigo
  • Olfactory hallucinations
  • Partial, temporary paralysis
  • Temporary speech slurring
  • Loss of spatial awareness
  • Loss of consciousness


The measure of a migraine

In diagnosing migraines, specialists look for a set of specific symptoms occurring in at least five separate migraine attacks.

  • Headaches that last between 4-72 hours
  • Headaches that cause nausea, vomiting, or extreme sensitivity to bright lights (photophobia) and loud noises (phonophobia)
  • Headaches that inhibit normal, day-to-day activities
  • Headaches that include two of the following criteria: head pain that is on one side of the head, headaches with pulsating (throbbing) qualities, pain described as moderate to excruciating, or head pain that intensifies with mild physical activity
  • Absence of any head injuries or other disorder that can cause severe headaches.

Please tell us…

What tests did your doctor use to diagnose migraines?

Do you suffer from chronic headaches, but aren’t sure if they classify as migraines?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Read more about migraine headaches

Migraine Headaches- Top 7 FAQ’s

Migraines are Excruciating, Trigeminal Neuralgia is Suicide


Migraine Diagnosis: Migraine Health Information – NY Times Health

International Headache Society diagnostic criteria

Free images from

Best Twitter Pages to Follow for Migraine Sufferers- Top 40

Monday, August 22nd, 2011



Chronic Headache Websites on Twitter: Follow the best Twitter pages, get updated news, opinion, and research on migraine headaches from top online forums, web communities, and chronic pain experts.


What’s the best way to find informative, trustworthy information on migraine headaches?

The internet is the best place to find the most recent information about health issues, such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, and more.  However, to ensure that you get the most accurate data, it helps to get your updates from multiple sources.  The net is crawling with migraine advocacy groups, online forums for migraine support, and numerous web communities.  (See our list of Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients.)

That’s a lot of internet websites to sift through.

Thankfully, you don’t have to.  Included in this list are the most revered, well liked, and helpful Twitter pages for migraineurs:

The top 40 list

40-@MigraineNurse Chronic migraineur/nurse answers your most pressing questions about migraine treatments, from an RN’s perspective.

39-@headacherecover Online community of migraineurs share their experiences.

38-@MigraineWizard Mr Ahmed Sadiq, ophthalmic surgeon and Botox expert dishes out advice on healing migraines through Botox injections.

37-@themigrainegirl Feature writer for, and fellow migraine sufferer, shares revealing, often uplifting, anecdotes on living with migraines.

36-@forMigraines Migraine-specific Tweets; everything you wanted to know about migraine headache meds, management, and coping mechanisms.

35-@TDHblog Twitter landing page for The Daily Headache blog.

34-@MigraineAction UK charity organization for migraine sufferers.

33-@Migravent Get all of our most recent, updated blog postings about migraine symptoms, research, and alternative headache treatments.

32-@TRobert Teri Robert, noted author and migraine advocate, also contributes to various migraine health sites all over the web.

31-@MigraineRF Migraine Research Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funding for migraine illness research.


30-@drummerheather Heather Hefner, blogger (War on Headaches), talks about her day-to-day life, as a migraineur, student, and drummer.

29-@headachehelper Chicago, Illinois outpatient center that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of migraine and other headache conditions.

28-@MigraineTrust UK non-profit charitable group devoted to raising migraine awareness.

27-@NHF National Headache Foundation Twitter page, for their site-

26-@migrainecooking Heidi Gunderson, author of  Migraine-Free Cooking!, shares her favorite recipes and tips, all geared towards helping you avoid common migraine headache food triggers.  Which Foods Trigger the Most Migraines? See our Checklist

25-@BetsyBlondin Betsy Baxter Blondin, publisher of Migraine Expressions, keeps you updated on the politics of migraine.

24-@migraine_tweets Interesting, off-beat articles related to migraines and chronic pain.

23-@KimmyDarling Kimmy Darling is a fun-lovin’ gal from Virginia who doesn’t let migraines slow her down.

22-@freemybrain Megan Oltman is a migraine management coach who also treats people suffering from fibromyalgia and IBS.

21-@DanaBaker Dana Baker has over 1,000 followers; she shares her views on life as a patient of headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and as a thyroid cancer survivor


20-@DisabledUnited Online community of over 50,000 disabled individuals.  Social Security Disability for Migraine- 5 Tips for Filing

19-@somebodyhealme Diana Lee, talented writer for and her blog, Somebody Heal Me, discusses chronic illness from a lawyer’s perspective.

18-@painspeaks Liz Hall manages the Pain Sufferers Speak blog, a global community of chronic pain patients.

17-@Migrainedotcom is one of the leading websites for migraine sufferers, featuring online support, migraine forums, expert advice on migraine medications, and thought-provoking articles on migraine stigma.

16-@disabilityscoop Before you file for disability insurance, check out what Disability Scoop has to say on the latest developments in disability law.

15-@disabledworld Close to 7,000 Twitterers get updated news, videos, and community input on disability insurance reform.

14-@CindyhM1 Cindy McCain, wife of Senator John McCain, is one of the most outspoken, well-connected advocates for migraine awareness in the US.  Cindy McCain Gives Voice to Migraine Syndrome

13-@EmpowHER : EmpowHER is one of the leading news sources for women’s health news.

12-@medlineplus is the Twitter page for the government website that provides updated info on medical research.

11-@Disabilitygov. Official U.S. Government website for information on disability-related programs, services, laws & benefits


10- 39,077 Followers- @PreventionMag The Prevention Magazine Twitter site offers information on anti-aging, nutrition, fitness, and fighting chronic illness.

09-120,468 followers- @WSJHealthBlog The Wall Street Journal health blog offers tips and advice from the world’s leading health experts.

08-131,183 followers- @JohnsHopkinsSPH Medical science news from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

07-147,255 followers- @healthfinder Government website for reliable prevention and health information.

06- 160,179 followers- @NPRHealth Health coverage from the NPR Science Desk.

05- 176,327 followers- @msnbc_health The latest health-related news from MSNBC.

04- 223,120 followers- @MayoClinic Comprehensive, easy-t0-follow medical information on diseases, including symptoms, treatment options, risks, and more.

03- 269,620 followers- @womenshealth is part of the U.S. HHS Office on Women’s Health.

02- 3,020 followers- @NeurologyToday Official newspaper of the American Academy of Neurology.

01- 332,112 followers- @DailyHealthTips Get practical, useful health tips everyday, from real doctors.


Teens and Migraines- 3 Headache Triggers that Spell Trouble

Monday, August 8th, 2011



Are teenagers responsible for their migraines? Chronic migraines among teens often occur because of risky lifestyle choices. Prevent these 3 teenage migraine trigger, and end your teen’s throbbing head pain.


Teen migraines- more common than you think.

Millions of people around the globe suffer from chronic migraines, and teenagers are no exception. Almost one quarter of all adult migraineurs claim that they had their first migraine headache during their adolescent years.  Recent research states that approximately 10 percent of all teens get frequent migraines.  As with adults, girls make up the majority teenaged migraine sufferers.

How do I know if my teen is having migraines?

Your teenager’s migraine attacks are probably shorter than an adult’s is, although the symptoms are likely the same.  Some warning signs to look out for are:

  • Recurring head pain that impairs her ability to function
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Fatigue
  • Aura, including visual disturbances, numbness, and slurred speech

Three factors that influence migraines among teenagers.

There are many possible triggers for migraine pain, including food, stress, lack of sleep, and hormones, but some alarming research links frequent migraines with these three teen health issues:

Smoking, obesity, and inactivity


Researchers in Norway interviewed 6,000 teens between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, hoping to prove a correlation between migraine headaches among youths and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and obesity.

  • Nineteen percent of the teenaged test subjects admitted that they smoked cigarettes.
  • Sixteen percent were overweight.
  • Thirty-one percent participated in physical activity less than two times per week.
  • Of the girls, 36 percent suffered from chronic headaches the past year, where 21 percent of boys experienced regular head pain.
  • Over 55 percent of teens who were obese, inactive, and smoked also experienced migraine headaches.  Comparatively, 25 percent of “healthy” teenagers, teens who exercised regularly, were of average weight, and didn’t smoke, reported getting frequent headaches.
  • Obese teens who smoked were about 40-50 percent more likely to suffer from migraines than their healthier peers were.  Overweight smokers who also refrained from exercising more than twice a week were 70 percent more likely to get migraines.

Teen migraine treatments


Good news: about 40 percent of teens and children who suffer migraines lose their migraine symptoms once they reach their college years, and 60 percent say that their migraines have reduced in severity.  Until then, neurologists advise teen migraineurs to make the following health changes:

  • Quit smoking- aside from causing migraines, smoking cigarettes causes numerous health problems, including heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, and a host of other debilitating, life-threatening diseases.
  • Eat healthy meals that include low-fat protein sources, vegetables, and whole grains.  Never skip meals.  Eating regularly throughout the day boosts the metabolism, and prevents the body from needlessly storing fat calories.
  • Exercise for at least 20 minutes, four to five times per week.  Include a combination of aerobics and strength training.
  • Sleep at least eight hours each night.
  • Drink plenty of water, and avoid caffeinated beverages.
  • Include vitamins and dietary supplements in your diet.  For migraines, health practitioners advise magnesium, riboflavin, feverfew, butterbur, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

For more info about migraine treatments, read:

New York Times- Patient Thanks Butterbur for Migraine Relief

Stay Hydrated without Drinking Water- 5 Hydrating Foods

Foods that Relieve Stress and Improve your Mood- The Fab 4


Headaches in Teens- LIVESTRONG.COM

Lifestyle factors linked to teens’ headaches- Reuters

Obesity, Smoking Linked to Teen Migraines

Help for Teen Migraines

Many Teens Lose Migraines As They Reach Adulthood

5 Sports-Related Migraines You Never Heard Of

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011



Headaches Caused by Sports Injuries- Exercise headaches are defined by the Mayo Clinic as any time of head pain which occurs during or after an arduous workout, such as running, tennis, rowing, swimming and weightlifting. Exercise headaches are divided into two classes:


Primary exercise headaches can be treated easily with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain medicines and basic first aid. They are not life threatening or dangerous.

Secondary exercise headaches signal an underlying health condition which requires emergency medical attention. Examples of secondary headaches are pain which is caused by a brain aneurysm or clogged arteries.

Below is a list of 5 types of exercise headaches which are common for many athletes:


Footballer’s migraine, or what Americans might call “soccer-ball migraine” has been in the news lately when Aussie football star Derrick Barnes suffered dizziness and head pain after a match against the Sharks. Footballer’s migraine is caused by repeated blows to the head, and is similar to the trauma experienced by heavyweight boxers. Symptoms of footballer’s headache include visual distortions, dizziness, head pain and loss of consciousness.

2) Swim Goggle Headache

Swimmer’s headache is caused by the wearing of tightly-fitted swim goggles. Frequent swimmers often tighten their goggle straps in order to see clearer underwater and reduce eye irritation caused by seeping water. However, many complain about severe headaches a few hours after swimming. Neurologists have noted a decrease in migraine headache symptoms when goggle usage was discontinued. Swimmers are advised to wear goggles with soft rubber or plastic linings, adjust straps to a comfortable fitting and removing the goggles from time to time during a swim practice.

3) Divers Headache

Diver’s headache is caused by hypercapnia, a condition which occurs when there is increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the brain. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often experience hypercapnia caused by narrowing of the airways. Similarly, some scuba divers are known to experience diver’s headache caused by hypercapnia, resulting from increased air pressure, breathing difficulties and insufficient release of CO2.

4) High Altitude Headache

High altitude headache is possibly linked to “mountain sickness,” and is often experienced by mountain trekkers. High altitude sickness can occur from 2500 meters above sea level; aside from migraines, other symptoms of high altitude sickness include nausea, loss of appetite and sleep difficulties. High altitude migraines are usually caused by overexertion above sea level, so experts recommend hiking slowly, taking breaks and focusing on breathing in and out.


A benign exertional headache is most often linked with weightlifting and running, but may also result from frequent coughing and sneezing, sexual intercourse, and strenuous bowel movements. Even benign exertional headaches can indicate a brain disorder, so physicians will recommend an MRI and an MRA in order to rule out any life-threatening health issues. People who experience benign exertional headaches often share a family history of migraines.

For more information about treating and preventing migraines, read:

Dwyane Wade of Miami Heat Battles 76ers and Migraines: Who Will Win?

Relieve Your Headaches With Yoga: Try These Moves!

Wine, Cheese, Perfume, and other Headache Triggers

Top 10 Headache Symptoms that Point to Migraines


Top 10 Headache Symptoms that Point to Migraines

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Do you know the difference between migraine headaches and common headache symptoms? If you experience head pain often, it’s important to know if you are suffering from chronic migraines, which may warrant a trip to the emergency room.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common, and they are caused by constricted muscles in the shoulders, neck and head; neck pain often accompanies a tension headache.


Migraines, however, are a neurological disorder, and are caused by engorgement of the blood vessels. There is a high correlation between stroke, heart attack and chronic migraine patients. Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!

If you experience any of these migraine symptoms with your headaches, please visit a neurologist immediately:

1) Head pain: Migraine head pain can occur on either side of the head, or on both sides at once, and the severity can alternate between moderate and excruciating. Pain duration can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. 7 Headache Categories:Which Type of Headache do you Have?

2) Throbbing or palpitating: Migraineurs often describe their symptoms as intense, pulsating waves of pain; this is caused dilated blood vessels, which allow unrestricted blood flow to the brain, creating the characteristic throbbing sensation. Migraine Pop Quiz: How Well do you Understand your Headaches?

3) Stomach upset: Migraine patients often complain of severe stomach problems during a migraine attack. Nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea are all common migraine headache symptoms.

4) Alternating between hot and cold: Hot and cold flashes occur as a result of poor circulation. Patients may have cold feet at times.

5) Light sensitivity: A particularly debilitating side effect of chronic migraines is the intense pain caused by bright lights, stark white surfaces and contrasting patterns of black and white. For this reason, severe migraine headache patients require a very dark room in order to recuperate from an attack. Migraines Caused by Eye Strain? Tinted Glasses can Help

6) Interference with daily life: Regular activities that most people take for granted can become practically impossible for people who get frequent migraines. Driving to work, shopping for groceries, celebrating a birthday party- all these things get put on hold when a migraine threatens to storm. Migraine Pain, Portrayed through Art and Poetry

7) Fatigue: Stress, chronic pain, inactivity, feelings of depression- all these combine to create mental exhaustion. Is Gluten Sensitivity Giving You a Headache?

8) Auras: Auras are a phenomenon which herald an advancing migraine. Symptoms of migraine auras are flashing, darting light hallucinations, blind spots, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Auras can occur before the headache, or arrive at the same time. Migraines with Aura may Signal Birth Defect in Heart

9) Fever: It’s not usual for a fever to accompany a migraine, but it is not unlikely, either.

10) Feebleness: After several years, chronic migraines can leave one feeling frail, disconsolate and weary. Unless an effective migraine treatment is sought out, long-term migraine relief is not possible.

Get help for your migraines. Below is a list of valuable information about migraine medications, coping mechanisms and support groups:

10 Clues your should Include in your Headache Diary Today

Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients

Top 4 Headache Treatments


10 Clues your should Include in your Headache Diary Today

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011



Do you keep a migraine journal? If not, you should. The amount of seemingly unrelated headache triggers that cause migraine headache attacks sometimes seems endless. The only way to prevent migraines is to nab your culprit by thinking like a detective. Jotting down notes in a headache diary is the most efficient, scientific method for tracking down your headache triggers and terminating them for good.


11 Headache Triggers you Never Thought Of

Here are the 7 most important clues you should log into your migraine relief diary:

1) Time and date: No detective worth his salt would forget to take down the exact time and date of the attack.

2) Severity of head pain: On a scale of one to ten, how bad was your discomfort?

3) Duration of migraine symptoms: Did your headache last for 30 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days?

4) Possible associations: This is where you really need to put on your thinking cap. Possible links are weather, strong scents, oversleeping, not sleeping enough, bright lights and long hours in front of the TV. Migraines Caused by Eye Strain? Tinted Glasses can Help

5) Nausea: Did you experience feelings of nausea, stomach cramps or the need to vomit? These are important clues, because they could signal migraines with aura, which have been linked with strokes.


6) Medications: Which kind of pain medications did you use? What drugs did you take after? If you take serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, then you should avoid certain pain relievers, like Advil, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Read more: New Study Warns against Taking these Painkillers with Antidepressants

7) Diet: Food triggers are the most talked-about causes of migraines. A lot of ex-headache sufferers claim to have found migraine relief by sticking to a gluten-free diet. The most common foods which are notorious for producing migraine headaches are aged delicacies (wine, cheese, dried salami), nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers), caffeinated beverages, sugarless sodas, preservatives (MSG) and dairy products. 10 Golden Food Rules for Chronic Pain Sufferers

8) Exercise: Did you get any light exercise today? One of the most difficult challenges facing migraineurs is to get out of the darkened bedroom, get some sunshine and go out for a quick walk. Easier said than done, but even small doses of aerobic exercise contribute to your well being. Relieve Your Headaches With Yoga: Try These Moves!

9) Menstrual cycle: Menstrual migraines are nothing new, but sometimes it takes looking through your headache journal to put two and two together. Go back to your log entries from three months earlier. Do you see a connection? Other hormonal fluctuations which should be noted are pregnancy, menopause and perimenopause.

10) Stress level: Stress is the number one contributor to headaches, accounting for 80% of all chronic head pain. Anxiety, nervousness and depression cause the  ”fight-or-flight” reaction, muscle soreness, high blood pressure and low community, all of which create head pain, stomach upset and nausea.

Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!

Also read:

Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients

Migraine Pop Quiz: How Well do you Understand your Headaches?

20 iPad Apps for Migraine Sufferers