Is It More Than a Migraine?


When you are having a severe headache and other abnormal symptoms, it may be common to wonder if it really is just a migraine headache or something more serious like an aneurysm. While some of the symptoms experienced may be similar, it is important to note that you should seek immediate medical attention for a headache that is worse than ever before, no matter what may be causing it.

What is a Migraine?

Approximately 12% of all Americans suffer from migraines, which are neurological episodes characterized by severe headaches. They are often brought on by a particular stimulus, although the actual cause is unknown.   

Migraine Symptoms

The following migraine symptoms can come on suddenly or worsen gradually. 

  • Moderate to severe headache that can be localized, or move from one side to the other side of the head
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Blurred vision, or seeing flashing spots or wavy lines
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizzy spells
  • Paleness 

Brain Aneurysms

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, a brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes in the United States. Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of all cases; therefore, it is extremely important to understand the risk factors and symptoms.

Brain Aneurysm Symptoms 

While most non-ruptured brain aneurysms cause no symptoms, individuals with large brain aneurysms that have not yet ruptured may experience severe localized headaches, blurred vision, changes in speech and neck pain, depending on the size and location of an aneurysm.

The following symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm often come on quickly. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately:

  • Sudden severe headache that is different from previous headaches
  • Loss of consciousness or severe sleepiness
  • Stiff neck
  • Sudden, blurred or double vision
  • Sudden pain, above or behind the eye, or difficulty seeing
  • Sudden changes in mental status or awareness
  • Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Seizures

If you or a loved one exhibits symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm, it is important to visit your nearest ER, or call 911 immediately. Locate your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency department.

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