What Is This Migraine or Headache?

Teri Robert @trobert Health Guide
  • How many times has your head hurt, and you wondered, "What is it? What IS this headache?" Sometimes, we're sure it's a Migraine. Sometimes, we're sure it's not a Migraine, but a headache. Then there are the other times when we just don't know.


    There are many different headache disorders. Migraine is just one of them, and to confuse matters, there are several different types of Migraine. It's also not unusual for someone to have more than one type of Migraine or headache.


    We know it can be confusing. Nancy and I have both had times when we were at one conference or another and needed to figure out what was going on so we knew what to do for ourselves. One way many of us can tell if we have a headache or a Migraine is to bend over or sit down and put our heads between our knees. Activity and bending are likely to make our heads hurt worse if it's a Migraine, but not if it's a headache.

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    After reading questions on our site, looking around the forum, and reviewing my email, I thought I'd tell you about a section of our site that you may or may not have seen yet. It's a section with articles about the Types of Migraines and Headaches. In that section of our site, you'll find many articles that describe different types of Migraines and headaches. If you know your diagnosis, you'll probably find an article there that will give you basic information about it. If you don't know, you may want to review, and even print, some of the articles to discuss with your doctor.


    One of the most important things is to get an accurate diagnosis. To simplify matters and make it easier for people to get information and treatment, doctors usually go by the gold standard for diagnosis, the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICHD-II). You can read more about the importance of an accurate diagnosis in The Type of Migraine Does Matter.


    There's a lot of good information available today, probably more than ever before because of the Internet. Unfortunately, not all of the available information is correct. For example, under ICHD-II, there is no diagnosis of "optical Migraine." We do see it used, but doctors use it differently, so it really doesn't tell anyone what type of Migraine you actually have. You can read more about this in Ocular, Optical, and Opthalmic Migraines.


    Maybe this will help you. Here's a listing of the different forms of Migraine as recognized in the ICHD-II:

    1.1 Migraine without aura

    1.2 Migraine with aura

    1.2.1 Typical aura with migraine headache

    1.2.2 Typical aura with non-migraine headache

    1.2.3 Typical aura without headache

    1.2.4 Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM)

    1.2.5 Sporadic hemiplegic migraine

    1.2.6 Basilar-type migraine

    1.3 Childhood periodic syndromes that are commonly precursors of migraine

    1.3.1 Cyclical vomiting

    1.3.2 Abdominal migraine

    1.3.3 Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood

    1.4 Retinal migraine

    1.5 Complications of migraine

    1.5.1 Chronic migraine

    1.5.2 Status migrainosus

    1.5.3 Persistent aura without infarction

    1.5.4 Migrainous infarction

    1.5.5 Migraine-triggered seizures

    1.6 Probable migraine

    1.6.1 Probable migraine without aura

    1.6.2 Probable migraine with aura

    1.6.5 Probable chronic migraine

    For more information, check out the articles in Types of Migraines and Headaches.


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    Last updated February 22, 2010
Published On: February 22, 2010