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Migraine and Headache Terminology

Migraine and Headache Terminology

Migraine headaches are the result of a medical disorder known as migraine. When it comes to symptoms and types of headaches, you’ll need to acquire a new vocabulary as you undergo therapy. Knowing these phrases will make it easier for you to communicate with your doctor. You must be able to distinguish between symptoms that indicate a migraine that will respond to your treatment plan and those that indicate a more serious problem, such as a stroke, that would necessitate emergency treatment. To get you started, here’s a list.

Ataxia. This indicates that you have difficulty using your muscles. It causes a loss of coordination and makes walking difficult. It is commonly associated with a kind of migraine known as migraine with brainstem aura.

Aura. These are visual or sensory changes that occur before or during a migraine. Symptoms of a typical aura include:

  • Changes in vision, such as flashing lights, spots, or lines, or vision loss
  • Sensory: a sensation of numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles in the body.
  • Speech: difficulty speaking or comprehending words

The symptoms appear gradually, last less than an hour, and are fully reversible. You might only have one of these signs. Alternatively, you could get one after the other while suffering from a migraine.

Aura without headache. When you have aura signs but no headache, you have this condition. It’s frequently misdiagnosed as a stroke, especially among the elderly.

Cutaneous allodynia. When touching your skin gets painful, you’ve reached this stage. Putting contacts in, shaving, or brushing your hair might be painful during a migraine.

Diplopia. When you have double vision, which means you see two of everything at the same time. A visual aura is a form of aura.

Dysphasia. Language skills are affected by this type of aura. It may be difficult to recall a word if you can talk at all. Alternatively, you may have difficulty comprehending what people are saying or making sense when speaking. It’s sometimes referred to as language aura.

Fortification spectra. During a migraine, complex images float in your vision with this form of visual aura. They have the appearance of an old-fashioned fort from above.

Hemiplegic migraine. You may experience muscle weakness or difficulty moving during an attack of this rare type of migraine. The weakness improves with time, but it can continue for days. Because it’s easy to confuse these symptoms with those of a stroke or epilepsy, you’ll need to see a doctor get a proper diagnosis.

Hyperosmia. “Hyper” denotes “extreme” in medical jargon. Smells are referred to as “osmia.” As a result, hyperosmia refers to a heightened sensitivity to scents. This does not simply imply that the scents are powerful. It indicates that you are particularly sensitive to them. You might also notice a change in the way you smell.

Menstrual migraine. These headaches are caused by changes in hormone levels just before or during your menstruation. You’re more likely to get them two days before or three days after your menstruation begins.

Migraine headache. A pulsing pain on one side of your head is the most common symptom. You may become queasy and vomit as the situation progresses. You can also be light-sensitive. (This is what the doctor will refer to as photosensitivity.)

Migraine postdrome. After the throbbing pain has passed, this is the phase of a migraine. It’s possible that the area where you experienced the headache still hurts a little. You can also experience strong emotions. Some folks are ecstatic. Others are simply worn out.

Migraine prodrome. This stage of the migraine cycle occurs 24 to 48 hours prior to the onset of a headache. You may have symptoms such as irritability and mood fluctuations, as well as food cravings, constipation, and neck stiffness. You may have noticed that you yawn frequently.

Migraine with brainstem aura. This uncommon kind begins in the brainstem. Weakness, visual auras, difficulty moving, tingling, and numbness are some of the symptoms. Basilar-type migraine is the ancient name for it, and you may still hear it named that.

Motor aura. On one side of your body, your arms, legs, and face will become weak. You may just feel them in one location or one after the other, but not always at the same time.

Ocular migraine. This is a catch-all word for headaches that cause vision problems, such as blind patches, zigzag lines, seeing stars, and even eyesight loss. There are two kinds of them:

  • Migraine with aura. For a brief period before the headache, this creates vision or sensory issues.
  • Retinal migraine. During a headache, this creates vision symptoms. These are more serious and might include everything from twinkling lights to vision loss or temporary blindness.

Ophthalmoplegic migraine. Recurrent ophthalmoplegic neuropathy is a new moniker for a rare illness that isn’t actually a migraine. It damages the nerves in your eye, causing uncontrollable motion in your eye (called palsy by your doctor) and pain. It can last weeks or months, but it can also be reversed.

Phonophobia. This indicates that you are sensitive to sound when you have a headache. If you have a pulsing headache or one that affects only one side of your head, it’s more likely than if you have a migraine that is a pressing pain on both sides of your head.

Photopsia. During an aura, these flashes of light occur. Simple lights and images could come before your eyes, or a sophisticated array of lights and images could emerge before your eyes.

Photosensitivity. Being exposed to sunshine or artificial light while suffering from a migraine can make you feel even worse. You may also hear it referred to as photophobia or photosensitivity.

Scotoma. This partial vision loss can potentially be accompanied by a migraine aura.

Sensory aura. This will feel like a tingling sensation in your face, mouth, arm, or leg. The tingling is followed by numbness that can last up to an hour as it spreads along your body. It can appear to be a stroke, but it isn’t.

Vertigo. This is the sensation that you (or the world around you) are spinning when you aren’t. This word is frequently used to describe dizziness, however, the two terms actually mean different things. Light-headedness or problems keeping your equilibrium are two symptoms of dizziness.

Vestibular migraine. You may become dizzy or lose your balance, but you will not always experience a headache. This is most common in persons who suffer from both motion sickness and migraines.

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