Have you ever had a terrible headache and not known why? How to tell if it is just a migraine or something major? Well, we have got you covered. Let’s learn about the difference between headaches and stroke-related headaches.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in India. About 1.8 million Indians suffer from stroke every year and about one-third of these people may probably die. Early recognition of symptoms and immediate medical care helps curtail the damage. Here is what you need to know about stroke and headaches.
A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood flow to your brain is stopped or interrupted. Your brain cells do not get enough oxygen and begin to perish.
This could be because of a blood vessel supplying the brain being blocked due to a blood clot or a tear or burst in the blood vessels that lead to bleeding in and around the brain.
Severe sudden headache
Numbness and weakness on one side of your body
Loss of balance and coordination
Slurring of speech, trouble while speaking
Trouble in understanding others
Disoriented and lost
Inability to write
Fine hand movements hampered
About 7% to 65% of people who have suffered from a stroke have complained of a headache initially. The headache is either at the start of the stroke or observed as a delayed headache.
Visit Manipal Hospital for brain stroke treatment in Bangalore.
A migraine is a type of recurrent headache that occurs in more than 213 million Indians. Migraine is often seen in females more than males, accounting for 60% of the cases. It is caused due to stress, hunger, caffeine, light, hormonal changes, and in some cases strong light.
Migraine is usually characterized by throbbing or pulsating headaches. You will observe the following symptoms before the onset of a migraine headache
Pain on one side of your head, occasionally both sides
Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch
Unable to eat or drink anything
Unable to keep eyes open
Development of an Aura
An aura is a disturbing symptom that occurs before or during a migraine episode. Each symptom begins gradually, increases in intensity, and then lasts for about 60 minutes.
Symptoms of aura include:
Visual changes - seeing various shapes, halo, bright spots, or sudden flashes of light
Pins and needles in your arms and legs
Numbness of the affected side of the face
A migraine headache typically lasts for a long time if left untreated. The frequency and intensity vary from person to person.
Differentiating a stroke headache from a migraine attack
So, how to tell the difference between a migraine headache and a stroke-related headache?
Look for the following symptoms when you are suffering from a headache -
|Signs to look for||Stroke-related headache||Migraine headache|
|Onset of symptoms||Sudden||Gradual|
|Progression of symptoms||Painful right from the start||Starts small and gets more painful|
|Type of symptoms||Negative - Loss of vision, loss of sensation in hands and feet||Positive - Added sensations like tingling numbness on your skin and flashes of vision|
|Type of headache||Worst, like a thunderclap||Throbbing, pulsating|
|Age||More common in elderly||More common in the younger age group|
|Past history||If you have never had a migraine attack any time before, then it is most likely a stroke||If you have a history of migraine, then it is mostly unrelated to a stroke|
|Medical conditions||Associated with high blood pressure or irregular heartbeats||Unrelated to any medical condition|
Irrespective of the above symptoms, if you feel uneasy due to a headache, follow your gut feeling. Speak to your healthcare provider and get yourself checked for any possibility of a stroke.
If you are above 40 years of age and have never had a headache, then chances are that your headache may be due to an ongoing stroke. Consult your physician immediately or rush to the nearest hospital right away. This will help save your life and limit brain damage.
Consultant - Neurology
Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road, Bangalore
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