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How Do You Differentiate a Headache From A Migraine?

2 min read
How Do You Differentiate a Headache From A  Migraine?
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When the pain and pressure in your head is debilitating, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a migraine and a normal headache.

If you are able to recognise the difference between a headache and migraine, it will better equip you to deal with it and may help you prevent it at times.

Headache vs Migraine 

Headaches are the unpleasant experience characterised by the pain and pressure on both sides of the head.

The parts specifically include temple, back of the neck and forehead. According to the doctors at Mayo Clinic, a headache can last up to 30 minutes or extend up to a week. The causes may include muscle strain, stress or anxiety.


Migraines are intense and more severe at times than a normal headache.

They include symptoms like nausea, pain on one side of the head, behind one eye or ear, blurred spots of light visible in front of eyes, vomiting, loss of vision temporarily, pain in the temple, etc.

Migraines can effect on one or both sides of the head. They are more throbbing, and make it difficult for a person to perform their daily tasks.

Headache vs Migraine: Types

There are mainly five types of headaches. They include:

  • Tension headache occurs when you are worried, stressed or anxious and is caused due to the strain in muscles as well.

  • Cluster headaches are the type in which you experience pain only on one side and they come in cycle of headache followed by the pain-free period and that continues.

  • Sinus headache occurs when you suffer from an sinus infection characterized by facial pressure, stuffy nose, congestion and fever.

  • Chiari headache occurs due to a defect since birth known as chiari malformation in which the skull is pushed against the brain parts causing pain in the back of the head.

  • Thunderclap headache is caused in less than a minute and the main cause can be subarachnoid hemorrhage, aneurysm, stroke or an injury.

There are two types of migraine headaches. One with an aura and others without an aura.

  • A migraine with an aura refers to a migraine in which you experience sensations for 10 to 30 minutes before the actual attack. The other symptoms may include tingling in the face or hands, unusual smell, taste, inability to focus, visible blurred lights or lines.

  • A migraine also has a prodrome phase in which the person doesn't actually experience the attack but suffers from symptoms like constipation, depression,neck stiffness, frequent yawning, food cravings, etc.

Headache vs Migraine: Treatment 

Headaches can be treated with the help of various treatments like over the counter medicines aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprophen. But you must always consult your doctor before using medicines.

Since few headaches are the results of stress, getting rid of stress can reduce the severity of the headache. Few methods include meditation, massage, stretching of neck and relaxing exercises.

Migraines can be treated with a few dietary changes like abstaining from caffeine and alcohol. Taking medicines like anti-depressants, tablets for lowering blood pressure, pain relievers, anti-nausea tablets may be beneficial.

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