Recognize Headaches Vs. Migraines And When You Need To Go To A Doctor Immediately
By Kat Gal
Want to talk about headaches?
I am your girl; I know all about headaches.
From my early teens on, I dealt with frequent and debilitating headaches and migraines. In my mid-20s, things took a bad turn and my frequent headaches turned into one giant consecutive headache.
For 4 and a half years I had a non-stop headache that only swung between medium to “I want to die now” unbearable. I had a constant atypical tension headache that was sometimes accompanied with a migraine (yep, a double headache!) with nausea and muscle pains appearing alongside with it.
It was a long search, but thanks to recognizing the mind-body-soul connection and deep emotional work, the headache disappeared one day and has never come back since.
It’s been years now since I began living free from this pain, but I still remember. If you are struggling with headaches or migraines, I empathise with you. Please, know that you are not alone. Things will get better. You WILL find your answers.
But how do you know if you are having a migraine or a tension headache?
For some it is obvious, but for others, it can be confusing. Let’s get this straightened out.
What Is A Tension Headache?
A tension headache is the most common type of headache that is characterized by mild to moderate pain that feels like a tight band around your head.
Tension headaches are characterized by:
- Sensation of tightness or pressure around your head, sides and back of your head, or across your forehead
- Tenderness or pain in you neck, shoulder and scalp muscles
Episodic tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one week.
Chronic tension headaches occur 15 or more days out of a month.
What Is A Migraine?
A migraine usually lasts for 4 to 7 hours, but sometimes can last up to 48-72 hours. Migraines can differ from person to person or even episode to episode.
However, a migraine is usually characterized by at least some of the following symptoms:
- Intense pulsing or throbbing pain
- Localized on one side of the head
- Gets worse when you move
- Sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Accompanied by nausea, vomiting or dizziness
- Temporary blind spots
Additionally, some migraines are accompanied by an aura, or otherwise known as a sensory symptom, including flickering lights, zigzags, or spots.
Should You Visit A Doctor?
For some people, migraines and headaches are infrequent conditions that happen from lack of sleep, dehydration, or something obvious that can be helped with coping strategies, including sleep, a glass of water, or essential oils. For others, it is more frequent, potentially chronic and interferes with their quality of life.
As a rule of thumb, if you are dealing with headaches or migraines that you are worried about or are interfering with your daily life, go visit your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Once major health conditions are ruled out, you may turn to a health coach, naturopath, or other holistic health professional to help you with lifestyle changes and possibly eliminating your headaches and/or migraines forever.
Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing:
- Fever and chills
- Complete or near complete loss of vision
- Have been in an accident or have struck your head
- It is the worst headache of your life
Your headache can be caused by a serious infection, stroke, bleeding, head trauma, or other serious issue that requires medical attention right away.
When Less Urgent Medical Attention Is Needed
If you are not experiencing any of these urgent and alarming conditions, but have frequent headaches or migraines that you want to find answers for, seek medical attention.
Visit your doctor if:
- You have 3 or more headaches a week
- Your headaches worsen without a reason
- Your symptoms have recently changed
- Your headaches don’t go away
Before you visit your doctor or any other health practitioner for your symptoms, keep a headache diary for a month or so. Right down everything you eat and drink, how much you sleep, your exercise routine, your stress levels and anything else that happens during your days. Record your pain: the time it began, how long it lasted and its strength and characteristics. A headache diary can be very helpful with finding patterns and even discovering reasons behind your headaches.
If your headaches are disrupting or controlling your life, it is time to take charge. Make sure to listen to your body, pay attention to your symptoms, look for answers and make any necessary changes.
Remember, you do not have to live with pain. You can find your answers. I am living proof that the worst and most hopeless headache cases can end. I am sending you healing vibes.
If you are interested in my personal story about healing from chronic headaches, I invite you to listen to my video here.
If you are experiencing frequent headaches or migraines or have recovered from them, please, share your story below. We can always learn from and inspire each other. If you have any questions or comments, share them below. We would love to hear from you.
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Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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