Doctors can often determine the type of headache you are suffering from by your symptoms. Since migraine headaches have particular characteristics, like causing nausea/vomiting, light-sensitivity, and one-sided head pain, doctors use these signs to eliminate tension, sinus, and cluster headaches from their diagnosis. People with family histories of migraines also have an increased risk of developing them. Diagnostic tests such as CT or MRI scans may be used to rule out more serious problems such as brain tumors or strokes.
Migraines headaches are generally treated with the prevention of triggers, modification of symptoms (lying in a quiet, dark room), or with pain medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), aspirin, or naproxen (Aleve.) All contain anti-inflammatory medication. For more stubborn migraine headaches, prescriptives can be used. Some include ergotamine, sumatriptan (Imitrex), isometheptene (Midrin), and an antidepressant called nortriptyline.
It seems that migraines come with their own distinct bag of tricks. Diagnosis is more about identifying symptoms, including a family history, than an exact science of testing. Treatments can be preventative or taken at the onset of a migraine headache. The most important thing is getting that correct diagnosis and finding a treatment that works for you. It could mean the difference between suffering and sanity!