Migraine vs Headache: How Can You Tell the Difference?

migraine vs headache

Knowing the key differences between a migraine vs. headache can bring better pain relief. Both of these ailments can feel very similar to one another. However, they are not the same, and they have different treatment options.

If you don’t know if you suffer from headaches or migraines, keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is more severe than a regular headache. For example, migraines can cause blurry vision, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Usually, migraines will only affect one side of the head and can cause throbbing.

Sign of a Migraine

Usually, a person will start having sensations 30-40 minutes before an upcoming migraine. Doctors refer to these sensations as auras. Typically these are some of the auras people experience:

  • Numbness of the face and hands
  • Vision disturbances
  • Reduced mental alert and thought patterns
  • Tingling sensation in face and hands

It’s worth noting that some people don’t have auras before a migraine. Nevertheless, these sensations are very common amongst most people. Some individuals might experience sensations a few days before the migraine.

Doctors refer to this as the prodrome phase. These symptoms usually include mood swings, depression, irritation, heightened food cravings, and neck stiffness.

What Is a Headache?

Headaches can cause moderate or severe throbbing and pressure in the head. Typically headaches can affect multiple parts of the head at once. For example, the temples, the forehead, and the neck area can all be affected.

There are usually no auras or signs before a headache. However, the causes could be stress, bad dieting, dehydration, anxiety, or muscle strains.

Types of Headaches

Different types of headaches can affect a person. The three most common are Chiari, sinus, and cluster headaches.

First, Chiari headaches are a congenital disability where the skull pushes parts of the brain inward. This defect can cause permanent headaches if not treated with surgery.

Sinus infections cause sinus headaches. Some of the other symptoms are runny nose, fever, fatigue, and coughing. Lastly, cluster headaches occur on one side of the head. These headaches come in cycles and are followed by momentary relief for days, weeks, or months.

Headache vs. Migraine

Sometimes an intense headache can feel like a migraine, but they are different. The placement of the headache will largely determine if it’s a migraine or headache. As stated previously, migraine tends to affect one part of the head while headaches can affect multiple parts.

Headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, but migraines need extra care. Often, people need to take prescribed medications to treat migraines.

Interestingly enough, there is a piercing that is said to reduce migraine attacks. The piercing goes in the inner ear and is said to work like an acupuncture treatment.

This treatment has not been studied long enough to know the actual results, but the results are positive when looking at individual cases.

Final Thoughts

Know that you know the difference between a migraine vs. headache; you can start looking at your treatment options because headaches don’t have to be a part of your life forever!

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About the Author: Mike

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