What are the types of migraine headaches? How do you detect the type?


What is a migraine?

Migraine is a disease. It is chronic and has the potential to last your entire life, even if you seek effective treatment. In addition, it is also associated with other health risks such as stroke and heart attack. The word migraine comes from the Greek word hemikrania, meaning “half the head.” It is the reason why people with this neurological disorder often have pain on only one side of their heads. It is a type of headache that usually accompanies other symptoms. They include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. The pain can be debilitating. Moreover, it can significantly reduce a person’s ability to function at work or school. In severe cases, a headache episode can last from 4 hours to 3 days. It can be so critical that the person cannot walk or stand up.

In terms of gender, many pieces of research show that more women have these pulsating headaches more than men do. However, men often experience more severe symptoms from their headaches. Effective remedies can help relieve your migraine symptoms.

What are the symptoms of this disease?

The indications include a throbbing sensation in the head, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, visual disturbances (auras), stiffness in the neck, irritability. Migraine attacks are of two types-

  • With aura
  • Without aura

The symptoms under aura category are-

  • Zigzag lines or flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stiffness in the neck

The symptoms under migraine without aura are-

  • Throbbing sensation in the head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sound Visual disturbances (auras)

What are the possible causes?

The exact cause of such throbbing headaches is not known. However, experts say a combination of environmental and genetic factors can play a vital role. Some possible triggers of migraines include-

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Skipping meals
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation or pregnancy
  • Exposure to bright lights or loud noises.

Although migraine treatment can prevent the symptoms, triggers may worsen your condition. There is also some evidence to suggest that food allergies or sensitivities can trigger headaches in some people.

  • Alcohol, especially red wine and beer
  • Cured meats such as salami or prosciutto
  • Chocolate
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Aspartame (a common artificial sweetener found in many diet soft drinks)

When do these throbbing headaches take place?

These attacks can take place at any time. However, they are most common in the morning. Some people have pulsating headaches every day. On the other hand, others only have them a few times a year.

What are the warning symptoms of a migraine attack?

An episode of headache can also accompany many warning symptoms. However, some include-

  • Feeling tired and drained for a few hours before the headache begins
  • Mood changes such as depression, irritability, restlessness, or anxiety
  • Yawning more than usual
  • Food cravings (especially carbohydrates)
  • Fluid retention, which can lead to a feeling of bloating
  • Increased sensitivity to light, noise, and smells
  • A throbbing sensation in the temples or on one side of the head

Take your medications when you experience these migraine symptoms.

What should you do if you think you are up to an attack?

If you are experiencing any of the above warning symptoms, you are likely to have a pulsating headache. However, the best things you can do are-

  • Resting in a dark, quiet room until the attack has passed
  • Take some over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • If you are vomiting or have severe diarrhoea, seek medical advice. You may need medication to improve your condition.

What should you do in severe cases?

If you have critical head pain, it is significant to avoid any activities that could further aggravate your condition. They include smoking, drinking alcohol, and strenuous exercise. Moreover, it is also beneficial to avoid bright lights and loud noises. If you have to go out, wear sunglasses.

How long do an attacks last?

Such types of headaches can last from four hours to three days. However, the majority of the cases only last for a few hours. Take your medications when you experience migraine symptoms. Nevertheless, if your headache continues, contact your doctor.

What are the most common types of migraines?

There are many different types of such headaches. However, the most common are-

  • With aura
  • Without aura

Aura is a sensory disturbance, which usually affects one side of the head. These symptoms include-

  • Visual problems such as blurred vision or blind spots in your field of view
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of your face or in your arm or leg
  • Speech problems such as slurred speech

If you have any of these symptoms, you are likely experiencing an aura before your headache begins. In such cases, you should rest in a dark room until the attack has passed.

Migraine without aura is less common than those with aura. However, it affects around 1 in 4 people who experience such headaches. They are usually preceded by common warning symptoms such as those listed above. Taking treatments can help ease migraine symptoms. However, if your condition turns severe, reach out to your doctor.

What are other types?

There are more types of severe headaches. However, the less common headaches among them are-


It is a rare form of neurological disorder that causes weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.


It is an infrequent form of migraine that affects the eyes.


It is a rare type of head pain that can cause difficulty walking, speaking, or swallowing.

What are the diagnostic tests for migraines?

The tests available such as blood work and CT scans can often be normal when a person has migraine symptoms. Neurologists prefer these tests when there is suspicion of another neurological condition. These conditions include stroke, which could be causing the person’s headache symptoms.

There are a few tests, which are more reliable in diagnosing this neurological disorder.


This test can show changes in brain wave patterns associated with these pulsating headaches.

Tilt table test

It can help rule out other conditions like orthostatic hypotension. This condition can have similar symptoms as a headache.

After ruling out the possible cause, your doctor may begin your healing procedure.
The best way to find out if you have migraines is to keep track of your symptoms. Another step is to see a neurologist or headache specialist for a proper diagnosis.

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