Recognizing migraine and migraine headache symptoms is critical...
So you've got this horrible pain in your head – are they migraine headache symptoms? You're wondering if you should rush to emergency or just put on an ice pack. Or, you just went to emergency and you're not sure if you can trust the diagnosis! How exactly is migraine diagnosed? What are the symptoms?
Migraine headache is really only one possible symptom of the genetically based disease known as migraine. Not all migraine sufferers even experience pain! Migraine headache symptoms are particularly tricky because they're so different in everyone. Some people see flashing lights, some don't. Some with migraine get a headache, some don't! But there are "typical" symptoms that should clue you in quickly that you have a migraine.
How to tell if it's migraine
Usually doctors can accurately diagnose what type of headache you have by asking questions about your medical history and giving you a physical examination. Sometimes after that they will recommend more testing. So how can they tell if you have migraine headache symptoms?
One of the classic symptoms that may accompany migraine is aura, typically strange flashing lights that are seen by the migraineur before the headache hits. But only about 20% of people with migraine get aura.
International Headache Society
has developed a way of recognizing migraine. The headaches usually range between 4 and 72 hours (untreated). They also include at least two of these symptoms:
moderate to severe pain that interrupts your normal life
made worse by physical activity or makes you avoid activity
and you have at least one of these symptoms:
sensitive to light and sound
Most doctors go beyond these few symptoms and use their familiarity with the overall features of migraine and migraine headache symptmos to diagnose.
Recently a new even simpler diagnostic tool was developed, known as ID Migraine. It was found to be a very reliable way to detect migraine.
This tool for testing migraine and migraine headache symptoms was described in an issue of Neurology.
ID Migraine is meant to be a tool used by doctors, and it is hoped to solve the problem of many migraines being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. There are three questions, and if you answer "yes" to at least two of them, you may well be a migraineur:
~Has a headache limited your activities for a day or more in the last three months?
~Are you nauseated or sick to your stomach when you have a headache?
~Does light bother you when you have a headache?
One thing to remember is that "migraine" itself is not technically a headache. Headache is just one possible symptom of migraine. Many people have migraine without the headache. However, headache is often the symptom that tips people off, and that's when they start looking into other migraine headache symptoms.
If you think you have migraine headache symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out more serious problems, and also to find treatment. There is help available!
Read our page on symptom descriptions to find out more about migraine headache symptoms...
*Migraine is sometimes misspelled as migrain headache or migrane - see our misspellings page...