Migraines vs. Headaches: Know the difference.

What are headaches?  

A headache is a condition where you feel pain in your head. Pain levels vary from mild to severe. Mostly it stays around 30 minutes to a few hours. Most headaches happen due to tension, anxiety, stress, muscle strain, eyestrain, etc.  

There are 5 types of headaches (besides migraines). These are: 

  1. Tension headache: It’s the most common type of headache. Symptoms include pain on both sides of the head and tightening in the back of the neck or scalp. Having stress or a bad posture are the triggers of tension headaches.  
  2. Cluster headache: This type of headache is a subtype of migraine. In this headache, pain comes on one side of the head but in the form of clusters. It is exceedingly rare; only 0.1% of people have this type of headache. It mostly affects males more than females and happens between 20 years to 49 years of age. It can happen by increased blood flow in the blood that widens the blood vessels. 
  3. Cervicogenic headache: This type of headache starts at the back of the neck and skull. This happens because of bad posture, a pinched nerve, osteoarthritis, whiplash injury, or a prolapsed disc. This type of headache can be treated by a chiropractor.  
  4. Sinus headache: This type of headache happens when you have a sinus infection (like a fever, stuffy nose, cough, etc.). This causes an unusual pressure in your sinuses due to congestion and triggers a headache. According to one survey in 2018, sinus infection affects 11.6% of adults. 
  5. Medication overuse headaches: (also known as rebound headaches) These happen when you decrease the dose, stop the medicine, or take a heavier or extra dose than usual.

What is a Migraine?  

It is a type of headache that causes more pain than the average headache and has other symptoms like: 

  • Nausea  
  • Muscles pain 
  • Pain behind one side of the ear 
  • Dizziness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, or smell. 
  • Irritability  

Migraine attacks occur in episodes and typically involve one side of the head (an attack can involve both sides of the head as well). Migraine attacks are linked with intense throbbing pain and auras.  

There are 4 types of migraine.  

  1. Migraine without aura: An aura is a sensation that a person feels before a migraine attack. This type of migraine is associated with intense, throbbing headaches on one side of the head. This headache lasts anywhere from 4 to 72 hours.  
  2. Migraine with aura: According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 1 out of every 3 people suffering from migraine report migraine episodes after having an aura. People do not always sense the aura every time they have a migraine attack. Symptoms of an aura can appear as early as 30 minutes before a migraine attack. An aura includes auditory and visual hallucinations like: 
    • Bright spots 
    • Flashing lights 
    • Moving lines 
    • Hearing sounds that aren’t there 
    • In severe cases, temporary loss of vision 
  3. Abdominal migraine: This type of migraine affects children between 3 to 10 years old. This causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and mild headaches or no headaches at all.  
  4. Hemiplegic migraine: This type of migraine is rare and can cause temporary paralysis before or during a headache. Some of the symptoms of hemiplegic migraine are:  
    •  Dizziness 
    •  A stabbing/ throbbing pain sensation in the head 
    • Vision problems 
    • Difficulty in speaking or swallowing 
    • Trouble moving one side of the body 

A migraine is more painful than an average headache and produces symptoms that affect our mental and physical health.  

Difference between Migraine and headache 

A headache happens for a shorter period, and can easily be treated with medicine, while a migraine stays for a longer period (depending on the severity of the episode, it can vary from 4 to 72 hours). For treatment, different combinations of medications need to be tested to see which one works for migraine attacks.  

  • A headache is less painful than a migraine and has different symptoms altogether.  
  • Some migraines are preceded by an aura, but a headache isn’t.  
  • Migraines are always caused due to specific triggers while headaches aren’t. 
  • Some headaches can also lead to migraines if other factors like stress, depression, alcohol, etc. are involved.  

If you are worried you might be suffering from a migraine, consult our doctors. Call us now on 718-DORAL-55.  At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at info@doralhw.org if you have any queries.