Is it a Headache, or a Migraine?
By Alyssa Lettich, MD
Oct 24, 2017
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Headaches. We all get them — and you know the feeling. Sharp, throbbing pain or a dull ache. Headaches are the most common form of pain, but if they're making you miss out on work or school, it might be time to see a doctor. Not all headaches need a doctor's attention, but when they start to affect your daily activities or quality of life, it's time to talk to an expert.
Alli Hock from Salt Lake City started out with migraines a few times a year that turned into debilitating chronic migraines several times a week. She stopped traveling, activities and going out with friends.
"I was miserable,” she recalls.
Alli now takes a combination of medications and Botox which has changed her life. "I don't think you could put into words. Before, I had given up what my life used to be and wasn't sure I could get back. That’s changed,” she said.
Migraines can be moderate to severe headaches that include pain on one or both sides of the brain, throbbing pain that lasts for four to 72 hours, sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for migraines, but there are options to treat and prevent them, such as psychotherapy, medication, and non-prescription options.
Everyone can get a headache, but migraines tend to target young and healthy women in their reproductive years. Sixteen percent of people in the world have migraines. Additionally, 30 percent of women have regular migraines between the time they start to have their period and when they go through menopause. Half of women have had a migraine.
Solutions like cognitive-behavioral therapy and bio-feedback have successfully prevented migraines. Non-prescription options including magnesium and riboflavin and procedure-based treatments like nerve blocks and Botox have also resulted in success.
If you're suffering from headaches twice a week, or even twice a month, and they’re keeping you from activities you enjoy, you may want to talk to your doctor about a treatment plan.