When is a Headache not a Headache?

So when is a headache not a headache?

When it is a migraine, of course. But in reality, people often say they have a migraine, when in fact they’ve just got a headache. They just don’t nknow the difference and quite how debilitating migrainses can really be. In fact, migraines are caused by a brain disorder and they involve a lot more than just a headache.

Usually, migraines will last between 4 and 72 hours and their symptoms include extreme sensitivity to light, throbbing, nausea, vomiting, frightening visual disturbances and even temporary blindness.

The classic migraine has four stages: a prodrome phase – this is when you know a migraine is coming down the pipe – so get ready, the aura stage, the headache phase with often debilitating symptoms, and the postdrome stage when the severe pain has gone when the sufferer feels ‘bruised’ inside and generally trampled on.

Doctors diagnose migraine rather than headache when the patient has at least two of the four major stages that migraine typically goes through as well as a minor symptoms. This could be extreme sensitivity to certain smells for example.

In contrast, severe headaches are usually just that – headaches – and these can respond well to treatment with Co-Codamol and other pain killers.