One of the common myths I hear about migraine is that an attack is always something incredibly painful. Well, maybe a lot more people know today that a migraine does not always mean a headache. But if there is a headache, people think it has to be a severe one.
We have to be careful of our terminology. "Migraine is not just a bad headache" is true – but sometimes it’s not a headache, and sometimes it’s a mild headache. "Migraine is more than a bad headache" may be less accurate … sometimes there’s no bad headache at all.
Don’t get me wrong – migraine headache pain can be VERY severe. I’ve had attacks when I’ve been writhing on the floor with groans of agony. So let’s in no way minimize how bad a migraine attack can be.
But when I hear "I’ve got a headache… not as bad as a migraine though…" I get a little concerned.
Yes, your slight headache could be migraine.
Now occasional slight pain is no reason to panic, spend thousands on brain scans and go through the rounds of risky medication. Oh, you should mention it to your doctor if it’s something new. But just calling something "migraine" doesn’t mean you need to take drastic measures. Some people simply do not have severe symptoms.
On the other hand, a lot of people suffer through years of headaches that could be treated, all because they think they’re "just headaches", and don’t recognize them as migraine attacks.
If you’ve been visiting for a while, you should realize that our knowledge of migraine has gone far beyond the "take two aspirin" phase. Migraine is still wrapped in mystery, to be sure, and we have a long way to go. But there are treatments available now that we had no concept of 20 years ago.
I should note there is some disagreement over just how many headaches out there should be attributed to migraine. Some suggest most are actually migraine. Others say that migraine is something more specific. Regardless, my point here is that all migraine attacks are not severe.
If headache pain is disrupting your life, don’t just put up with it. Don’t assume it’s "just a headache". It may be migraine, and there may be good treatments that you haven’t even considered that could greatly improve your quality of life.
That’s right, your "slight headache" could be migraine.