More than just a headache

So often as someone living with a Migraine Disorder when you tell people about your Chronic Illness you recieve response

“Oh yeah (I, my mum/ aunt/ dad etc) get headaches as well”

This use to be really annoying as I felt the general public were downplaying my disabling neurological condition and comparing it to a simple headache.

But as it is Migraine Awareness Month I thought a better way to tackle this issue that arises for many is to explain the difference.

So in order to understand the difference we need to first ask……. What is a headache?

The term Headache refers to diffuse head pain; that is, pain which is spread throughout the head and not restricted to areas in which the head’s nerves are located.

While a common headache can be caused by poor sleep, poor posture, skipped meals, stress and alcohol it can also be a symptom of a bigger condition.

Schedule a Doctors visit

If you experience headaches that:

-Occur more often than usual

– Are more severe than usual

– Worsen or don’t improve with approriate use of over the counter drugs

– Keep you from working, sleeping or participating in normal activities

-Causes you distress

Seek Emergency Care

A headache can sometimes be a symptom of a serious condition.

It is important to go to a hospital emergency room or call your local emergency service if you are experiencing any of the following

-worst headache of your life

– a sudden severe headache

Or a headache accompanied by

– Confusion or trouble understanding speech



– Numbness, weakness or paralysis

-Stiff Neck

-Trouble seeing

-Trouble Speaking

-Trouble Walking

– Severe Nausea or vomitting

So headaches can be serious as well and shouldn’t be ignored if they persist or are severe.

Then what is the difference between a headache and Migraine?

The main difference is the Migraine disorder is accompanied by other symptoms that is not associated with headaches.

Migraine disorder is characterized by episodic attacks of head pain and associated symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light,
sound, or head movement. However some people who have Migraine Disorder
do not have severe headaches as a dominant symptom. Their primary complaint may be of dizziness, of ear pain, of ear or head
fullness, “sinus” pressure, and even fluctuating hearing loss.

As a neurological disorder Migraine covers a spectrum of different variations such as

  • Migraine without Aura
  • Migraine with Aura
  • Migraine with Brainstem Aura
  • Abdominal Migraine
  • Hemiplegic Migraine
  • Retinal Migraine
  • and Chronic Migraine

This is just naming a few of the main presentations

Within these categories peoples lived experience of symptoms and how disabling the disorder varies largely.

No one person with Migraine Disorder experiences the same thing

This is a picture expressing the symptoms I experience during an acute Migraine attack.

My diagnosis is Chronic Migraine with Aura

This picture would not be the same for everyone with the same diagnosis but as you can see from the symptoms listed I am affected by more than a headache.

So thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and help me educate and raise awareness around Migraine Disorder.

Take care

Love Monica x


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