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Seven Signs Your Headache is a Migraine

While 39 million Americans have migraines, most people don’t understand the condition or know how it's different from a headache. Many people think they’re having a migraine, but just have a severe headache, while others have migraines but don’t make the connection between their symptoms. 

A migraine is a neurological disorder that causes a variety of debilitating symptoms, including severe headaches. Attacks last anywhere from 4-72 hours and often lead to missed work, school, and social activities. 

Our anesthesiologist and pain management expert Syed Nasir, MD, here at Skilled Pain Care Clinic, PA, in Houston and Katy, Texas, diagnoses migraines and offers customized treatment including Botox® injections. 

How can you tell if your headache is a migraine? Look for these seven signs. 


Migraines often cause prodromes or “pre-headaches” that warn of a migraine attack. A prodrome occurs between a few days and a few hours before your migraine attack reaches its peak. You might have symptoms, including increased irritability, food cravings, reduced concentration, and sleep disturbances. 


Some migraines cause auras, which are visual disturbances that start before your migraine reaches its peak. You might see halos around lights, your vision might be blurry or wavy, and some patients experience temporary vision loss. You might also develop tingling or numbness on one side of your body during the aura phase of a migraine.

Sensory sensitivity

Many people who have migraines experience extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. You might only be able to rest in a dark, quiet, cool room. Some patients even become sensitive to touch and struggle with the texture of the fabric of their clothing and sheets.


Another sign that you have a migraine is nausea. You might also feel dizzy or off balance. Some people feel so nauseous and disoriented that they throw up. 

Throbbing headache

Migraines cause severe headaches that patients often describe as throbbing or drilling. You might feel like an icepick has been driven into your brain. Migraine-related headaches often affect one side of your head, but a third of migraine headaches cause pain on both sides of your head. 

Pain behind the eye

Migraines also cause pain in abnormal parts of your head, such as behind one of your eyes. Like migraine headaches, these symptoms usually affect one side of your head, although it’s possible to have pain behind both your eyes. 

Sinus congestion

Sinus congestion is such a common sign of migraines that migraines are often misdiagnosed as sinus headaches. Migraines cause sinus pain, facial pain, nasal congestion, and a runny nose. 

When to talk to a doctor about migraine pain

You should make an appointment with Dr. Nasir if your headache or migraine symptoms are so severe that they get in the way of your day-to-day life. Additionally, if you have headaches more than three times a week, you should get medical attention. 

Call us or make an appointment online if you have migraines or chronic headaches. We can identify the root cause of your pain and provide customized treatment for effective and lasting pain relief.

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