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Migraines and Other Headaches

Classifying Migraine HeadachesTwo Main Categories Of Migraine

In 1988, the International Headache Society decided on two major migraine classifications: migraine without aura—the most common type of migraine—and migraine with aura. In trying to classify your headache and make an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will probably ask you the following questions:

  • Over a period of time, have you had at least five of these attacks?
  • Have the headaches lasted from four hours to three days? (In young people a migraine headache may be as short as an hour.)

The doctor's next questions will have to do with how the headache feels to you.

  • Is the headache on one side only? (The answer for adult migraine sufferers will likely be “yes” but for young people a migraine headache may be on both sides.)
  • Does the headache pound or pulsate?
  • Is the headache very painful? In other words, on a scale of 1 to 10, is it at least an 8, 9, or 10?
  • Does it hurt more with physical activity?

For a doctor to consider your headache a migraine, the answer would have to be “yes” to at least two of the above questions. A doctor's next set of questions will concern other physical feelings that go along with migraine headaches.

  • When you have a headache, do you feel sick to your stomach? Do you throw up?
  • During the headache, are you sensitive to lights or noise?

Those who have true migraines will answer “yes” to one or both of the above questions. If you have migraines with aura, mention the sensations you experience to your doctor. An accurate classification of your type of migraine will make treatment more effective.

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Medicine EncyclopediaMigraines and Other HeadachesMigraines and Other Headaches - Classifying Migraine Headaches - What May Happen Before A Migraine Begins, Two Main Categories Of Migraine, More Migraine Categories