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Migraines vs SAH headache

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Can anyone off their opinion of the difference between a migraine headche and after SAH/stroke headaches? Are they the same? Are they different? Is one more intense than the other?

I never had migraines before my SAH. Rarely had headaches, usually only after a hot day in the sun or something.

Speaking for myself, my headaches after my SAH have ranged for 4-8 on a scale of 1 to 10. 4 being annoying but manageable and 8 being head ready to explode, need meds, cant function and 9 meaning needing to go to the hospital.

So would a migraine be like a 4 or 8? Anyone with any past with both types able to compare? Thanks.


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Hi David,

I have suffered with headaches for years. I used to take comfort from the fact that I seemed to be the same as my mum, she always had a headache. Well, that is I took comfort until the day she died from sah! Suddenly being just like mum wasn't so reassuring :roll:

The headaches I used to get pre-sah were often what I'd call bangers. My head would literally thump and would feel like someone was inflating a balloon inside my head (how apt a description with hindsight!) I'd be intollerant to noise and light. What I get now is like a tightening sensation in my whole head. If I ignore it, I get a ringing sensation and if it gets that far then it's bed for me. Twice now I've had a migraine since the sah. These have been exactly the same as they were before - a visual disturbance lasting about 30 minutes followed by a thumper of a headache.

Since I started drinking 2 litres of water each day, it's rare for me to get a headache and is now a sign that I've over done things. Usually a lie down and a couple of paracetamol will fix it. I have to look at my week as a complete single unit now rather than as simply individual days. If i get more than 2 headaches in a week, I clear my diary and have days where I try to be very lazy. Which turns out to be a big fat lie as in a bid to pass the day I'll 'just' clean the windows and 'just' do some ironing :crazy:

Dawn x

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Hi David,

I'd had migraines before my SAH. My whole head would hurt, even to rest my head on a pillow. I'd get very patchy vision, flashing zig zag lights, I'd often be sick with them. All I could do was lay in the dark and sleep them off.

One day I thought I was having a really bad migraine, a headache from hell. Well, that 'migraine' turned out to be SAH.

Yet I don't remember the headache at all. I only remember that I was being sick a lot.

Since SAH I haven't had any migraine, well, until recent months. I've had two migraines without the headache. I suddenly got very patchy vision in left eye and lots of zig zag jagged lights. Very frightening. Again, I would have to lay in the dark and let them pass. They both lasted about 20 minutes. I have advised my GP about them.

As for headaches.. I'd say for the first year my headaches and temple pressure was a lot. I'd some times be crying in pain. Mostly always left side pain (surgery side). It felt like my head was stitched back too tight. At about 6mths post surgery I was seen again in neuro out patients where they did some tests and they also explained my surgery, where my bleed was in my brain, showed me my scan pics etc, so I ended up much more aware of why I had the pains I did.

Things eased off a little but got worse again once I started back to work. Overload of info into my brain I guess.

I still get headaches and temple pressure everyday. I've forgotten what it's like not to have them. I had one day this week when I didn't need paracetamol. One day in as long as I can remember. I always try to ride through the pains but often they just won't ease off. It's worse after waking, takes about an hour for them to settle. I havta take mornings slow, no bright lights etc.

Drinking lots of water really helps. Also, like others, I plan things much more carefully now,I'm very mindfull of my spoons.

Sometimes you just can't help some situations, if I do too much I know I'll suffer for it later.

Just like Dawn,I 'just' do this and 'just' do that. Sometimes you do just havta get on with things though don't you.

Its been a long busy day for me, I need to be Zzzzzzzz'din!!

Take care David honey and keep smiling,

SarahLou Xx

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David, I had one true migraine 20 years prior to SAH pain scale 10- (SAH pain scale 100 plus,) now my headaches are usually always there, I wake up with temple side of the head headaches. They get weaker within a hour or so of being up. My other headache is in the back of head - occiptal lobe and brain stem is where my bleeds were. I often feel it hurts my head to lay it down so I have a hard time finding a position to rest. They range for 3-8 as well. My neurosugeon says my head hurts back there becasue of my fibromyalias tender spots but he is wrong. My skull feels brusied at times maybe from not enough rest and water. I had a head massage last weekend and it was wonderful, she just took her fingers in gentle circles all around my head for about 5 mintues.. It was really great. I do not think I have had a headache free day. I do not take pain meds as I was gettign pain med rebound headaches.

Good luck I hope this helps, mary


I have had visual aura or occular migraines for the past 20 years, I kept thinking I would get the headache but it never followed. When I would get tired I would have floaters in my right eye really bad. About 6 months prior to SAh I had a blast of electrical fireworks set off in my right eye for about 10 seconds I was so freaked out. I now have some vision loss in my right eye as well.

Edited by MaryB
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One other thing I do now beside massages, rest, water etc..... is I do a yoga simple child pose with stacked fist. If I am at work I just stack my fist and rest my head on them for awhile it takes some tension away. I do not do this often enough. :crazy:

Child's Pose

Bring your feet together and your knees apart. Sit back on your feet and lengthen your spine forward as you rest your head either on a yoga block or your two stacked fists. Hold this pose for at least five minutes and concentrate on breathing. Child's pose is considered a very meditative pose. Use this time to express gratitude and slow yourself down.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/362379-yoga-postures-for-hypertension/#ixzz1o3e2KovH

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David I had bad headaches before the SAH for how long I dont remember went to the doctors who sent me to the optitions who sent me back to GP and so on I would rate them between 8-10.

Now glad to say I dont have sore heads anymore well not like those anyway....

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I've had migraines since being 14 years old. These started as having a blinding, painful headache followed by vomiting and then not being able to lift my head off the pillow until the head had subsided or I would have vomited again, these migraines in the pain stakes, used to take me right off the Richter scale and I would be completely incapacitated.

My migraines changed again once I'd had children and I then experienced what is called a classic migraine. A 20 minute or so Aura, lack of concentration and no ability to be able to focus on a task, which is normally a pre-warning of migraine. This then gave me enough chance to take painkilling medication, before the migraine really took hold and I was able to take the edge off it. Migraines for me, would knock me out physically, as in terms of fatigue for at least a day or a couple of days. I'm now on a beta blocker to help control these episodes, but I still experience the odd one.

I can say that for me, there is a complete difference between my own migraine headache and what I've experienced post SAH as in recovery headaches. I've also experienced migraines in my sleep, obviously without the aura, as my eyes are shut, but I know what they are, as they will normally wake me up, due to their severity and will probably last at least a day or two.

Not sure that this helps you.... xx

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