After the shocking death of a woman in North Carolina following what she thought was just a migraine, many people are concerned that they might not be able to tell the difference. This concern is good: when in doubt you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Many people have too casual an attitude toward their migraines, which may conceal other serious health problems, such as the aneurysm that killed the mother of four in North Carolina. This is another reason why migraines are scary.

But if you’re the kind of person who needs additional directions to follow, here are some distinctions between migraine and aneurysm that neurologists point out.

man placing pressure on the temples due to head pain

Pain Is More Severe

Migraine pain can be very serious, but the pain related to an aneurysm is typically worse. People report the pain related to a burst aneurysm as being “like they’ve been struck by lightening or have a headache that brought them to their knees.”

Pain with an aura or with nausea can be normal for migraine. But if you have migraines regularly, you have a sense of how severe they can be. If your headache is much worse than what you’re used to, it’s likely that it might be related to a burst aneurysm.

Pain Doesn’t Respond to Usual Treatment

If you’ve been living with migraines for a long time, you’ve probably developed approaches to help you get through your attacks. You have abortive medications you take, and routines you follow (such as closing yourself up in a dark, quiet room) that can help make the attack bearable.

But if your headache doesn’t respond to the usual care the way it typically does, then it’s time to consider that this might not be a typical headache and you should see your doctor.

Be Aware of Risk Factors

Overall, burst brain aneurysms are rare, and they’re much more likely to happen to people with risk factors for the condition. Some important risk factors to consider include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Hardened arteries (arteriosclerosis)
  • Cocaine abuse
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Irregular blood vessel size or shape
  • Family history of brain aneurysm

If you have one or more of these risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about your risk level. And be more wary about severe headaches.

Preventing Migraines Can Reduce the “Noise”

Another good way to make it easier to tell the difference between migraines and aneurysms is to try to reduce the number and severity of your migraines. That way, there’ll be fewer false alarms from migraines and less doubt that a serious headache needs to be treated seriously.

TMJ treatment can help with this. For many people, TMJ plays an important role in triggering migraines. It can increase the frequency and severity of migraines. So people who get their TMJ treated often report fewer migraines and less severe migraines.

And because TMJ treatment is a drug-free approach, it can be an adjunct to other migraine treatment, allowing you to get better results than either treatment alone would provide.

If you want to learn whether TMJ treatment can help control your migraines in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.