May is World Stroke Month. Many health organization come together every May to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stroke. Here at All Best Home Care, we wish to raise awareness not only about strokes, but about identifying the differences between a stroke and a migraine.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a bad headache that often is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and/or sensitivity to light, smell, sound, or touch. The pain associated with a migraine is usually a throbbing or pulsing pain on the side of your head around the eyes or temples.
What is a Stroke?
During a stroke, blood flow to part of your brain is cut off. This causes a lack of oxygen to affect cells, and they start to die. There are two types of strokes: either blood flow is block in the vessel, like by a blood clot, or blood flow has escaped the vessel, causing hemorrhaging.
A sudden, severe headache can be a sign of stroke. Which is why migraines and stokes can easily be confused. However, typically people who get migraines have had them most of their lives, and their migraine symptoms are usually consistently the same. If you have not suffered migraines for most of your life, or your migraine symptoms seem different than normal, you may be experiencing a stroke instead.
Other symptoms of stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of your body
- Trouble speaking or trouble understanding others
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
The American Stroke Association recommends following the FAST guidelines for identifying stroke symptoms:
Face – By asking the person to smile you can tell immediately if one side of the face droops.
Arm – Ask the person to raise both arms. Observe to see if one arm drifts lower than the other.
Speech – Slurred speech is a symptom of stroke. Ask the person to repeat a single sentence.
Time – Call 911 as soon as possible. Time may be the difference between life and death or even partial and full recovery.
How can you tell the difference?
The kind of stroke that is most commonly confused with a migraine is called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. This type of stroke usually occurs when blood flow is block for only a short amount of time, and is often referred to as a “mini stroke”. The symptoms of a TIA, or “mini stroke”, are normally less severe than with a regular stroke and may last less than an hour.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a migraine and a TIA. Here is what to look for:
- With a stroke, symptoms usually come on suddenly. With a migraine, they normal occur gradually and become more painful over time.
- A stroke is more likely to have “negative” symptoms, such as you lose sight in one eye or lose feeling in one of your hands. A migraine is more likely to have “positive” symptoms, such as added sensitivity to light or sounds.
- If you’re young, it’s more likely to be a migraine. If you’re older, especially if you’ve never had a history of migraines, it’s more likely to me a stroke.
If you or a loved one have suffered from a stroke, do not hesitate to get help. All Best Home Care offers a variety of personalized services that could be greatly beneficial. Give us a call today at (502) 456-2273, or read more about our services here.