Tension headaches impact almost 40 percent of people. It is very common complaint. However, tension headaches and migraines are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Some people experience symptoms of both, which is sometimes called mixed tension migraine. The International Headache Society does not recognize the term mixed tension migraine since migraine and tension headache are separate diagnoses. However, it is possible to suffer from symptoms of both. Keeping track of your symptoms and understanding symptoms unique to migraine will help you and your doctor find the most accurate diagnosis.
Symptoms of mixed tension migraine
- Head pain on one side or both sides
- Throbbing pain
- Pain may feel dull, tight, like a rubber band around the head
- Pain rating may be anywhere from mild to severe
- Pain worsens with regular activity
- Symptoms last four to 72 hours
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, photophobia
- Sensitivity to sound, phonophobia
- Sluggishness or fatigue
- Numbness or tingling
- Neck pain
Like many other types of migraine, mixed tension migraine have many of the same migraine triggers: such as bright light, certain foods, change in sleep habits, menstrual cycle, alcohol, smells. The best way to identify your personal triggers is to keep a detailed account of each attack. Use a journal to record as much information as you can including when the migraine or tension headache occurred, how long it lasted, what symptoms you experienced and what you were doing before the attack began.
Throbbing pain, nausea with or without vomiting and migraine aura are usually a symptoms of migraine and aren’t symptoms of regular tension headaches. Tension headaches aren’t usually severe enough to prevent regular daily activities, whereas migraines are typically more severe and even disabling. At times, patients may have head pain that is hard to fit into any category. Keeping a migraine journal is most helpful to ensure that doctors have the most information possible to make a more accurate diagnosis. Your migraine journal should contain details of each migraine attack, a list of all migraine symptoms you experience, their severity and how long they lasted.