Could your headache be a migraine?

By Hida Nierenburg, MD  |  6/14/2018

Migraines are very common, but their unpredictability can bring a significant amount of stress and fear to those who get them.

A migraine usually begins with warnings signs that can happen hours to days before the onset of pain. People say they feel drowsy, can't concentrate and have neck pain.

Sometimes people feel depressed, anxious and irritable or experience sensitivity to light.  They might have watery eyes, constant yawning, frequent urination, nausea, diarrhea and food cravings. One common craving is carbohydrates, and often very salty or sugary foods.

You should speak to your doctor if you have more than a few of the following:

  • At least five attacks per month.
  • Headache attacks that last four to 72 hours.
  • Severe or debilitating in nature.
  • A headache that occurs in a specific location, pulsates, involves moderate to severe pain or gets worse during physical activity.
  • You feel nausea, vomit or have sensitivity to light or sound.

On average, a migraine usually lasts a day, but the duration of some are from four to 72 hours in adults.

About one-third of sufferers can develop reversible neurological symptoms described as a migraine aura. The aura can consist of visual, sensory, language or disturbances of brainstem dysfunction that last between five and 60 minutes.

This is a silent illness, where people "look normal" and their neurological exam and diagnostic images are usually within normal limits for most. But the severe pain and associated symptoms are real and quite disabling.

Find out how to prevent and treat migraines.

Dr. Hida Nierenburg sees patients at Health Quest Medical Practice's Kingston neurology office and focuses on the treatment of headaches and general neurologic conditions. Read more about Dr. Nierenbrug or call 845-331-5165 (TTY: 800-421-1220) for an appointment.