Migraines are more severe types of headaches that can present with more severe symptoms, such as nausea, sensitivity to light and/or sound, and inability to think clearly. In severe cases, migraines can last for hours or even days.

Treating migraines and headaches can be complicated, as they often occur frequently and render common painkillers inadequate. CBD shows promise in the treatment of headaches and migraines and, while there are only a few small studies looking at CBD and migraines/headaches specifically, there is a wealth of evidence surrounding CBD’s ability to treat chronic pain.

Migraines vs. headaches

It can be difficult to determine whether a headache is a migraine or not and vice versa.

Migraines are a type of headache disorder, headache is a general term for any painful sensation felt in or around the head. Headache disorders include the 3 main types of headache.

  • tension headache
  • terrible headache
  • migraine.

Tension headaches tend to be a more generalized pain that occurs on both sides of the head. Migraines usually occur in one area or one side of the head.

Migraines tend to be much more intense than headaches and are often accompanied by a throbbing or pulsating sensation. Cluster headaches, a rarer form of headache, often occur in temporary episodes of severe pain that disappear in periods of remission.

Migraine sufferers may experience other symptoms that rarely occur with tension or cluster headaches and may include aura, which are sensory disturbances of hearing and vision, nausea, or even vomiting.

While migraines are relatively common, it can be quite distressing when someone experiences them for the first time. Sometimes, regular migraine sufferers can even read symptoms that indicate an impending “migraine attack,” such as a blurring, pressure, or throbbing sensation in the head.

Medical attention is always advised when headaches occur with severe symptoms such as seizures, loss of balance, severe vomiting, and severe sensory changes.

What causes headaches and migraines?

The most common causes or triggers of headaches and migraines are stress and anxiety, muscle and eye fatigue, allergies and/or other illnesses (such as colds and infections) and diet/lifestyle related causes, e.g. dehydration, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption.

The causes of more severe migraines are a bit more complex and we do not yet understand their exact cause. They can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological problems, as well as small changes in nerve signals in the brain, changes in cerebral blood flow, hormonal changes or allergies.

Even severe migraines are mostly benign and do not indicate any structural problems with the brain, but even so, their symptoms can be disabling, especially for habitual sufferers.

Research on migraines and headaches is ongoing, but for the time being, most treatments focus on preventing migraines in the first place or relieving their symptoms.

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Leona J. Conway

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