what is the difference between a headache and a migraine

What is the Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

Headaches and migraines are two common types of pain with many overlapping symptoms, making figuring out the exact problem confusing for someone who experiences both. The two aren’t the same thing, in any case. Read on for more information about what is the difference between a headache and a migraine, as well as their symptoms and treatments.

What is the Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

There are more than 150 types of headaches. They fall into two main categories: primary and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches are those that aren’t due to another medical condition. The category includes:

  • Cluster headaches
  • Migraine
  • New daily persistent headaches (NDPH)
  • Tension headaches

Secondary headaches are related to another medical conditions, such as:

  • A disease of blood vessels in the brain
  • Head injury
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Infection
  • Medication overuse
  • Sinus congestion
  • Trauma
  • Tumor

On the other hand, a migraine is a chronic disorder that causes various symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. It can worsen with physical activity, light, sound, or smell and may last hours or even days. Moreover,  a 2018 study found that more than 15 percent of adults in the United States had experienced a migraine episode or a severe headache.

What Causes Headaches?

There are different causes for headaches, and what you experience can be challenging to pinpoint. However, common causes for headaches include the following reasons:

  1. Accidents, fall, and punches to the head are all possible causes of head trauma that can lead to headaches.
  2. Colds, allergies, and external conditions can all cause sinus problems that lead to head pain.
  3. A buildup of blood in the brain.
  4. Stress.

What Type of Migraine Headache Do You Have?

The following is a list of different types of migraine headaches and the symptoms that typically accompany them.

  • Common Migraine (Migraine Without Aura)

Common migraines (without aura) typically have throbbing, pulsing pain on one side of the head, light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting, all classic symptoms. The key differentiator is that common migraines lack the aura phase that other types have.

  • Migraine with Aura

A quarter of the overall population suffers from migraines. They will also experience an aura — a series of sensory and visual changes that can range from seeing black dots and zig-zags to experiencing tingling numbness on one side of your body or experiencing an inability to speak clearly. Aura occurs shortly before a migraine and lasts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. It is the second of the four stages of a migraine, and anyone who experiences it will confirm it is an unmistakable warning sign that severe head pain is on its way.

  • Hemiplegic Migraine

This word means “a paralysis on one side of the body.” A temporary (less than 72 hours) weakness affects one side of the body. This type of migraine is usually very severe and can cause weakness on that side, numbness, tingling, and an inability to speak.  

What Are The Treatments for Headaches?

Finding your triggers is one of the most difficult components of treating headaches. Keeping a headache record and listing what those are might help you reduce the number of headaches you get.

Your healthcare provider can tailor treatment to your needs once you understand what causes your headaches and how to manage them. For example, counseling or stress management skills can assist if you have headaches from stress. In addition, you can avoid headaches induced by stress by lowering your stress levels.

Not all headaches require medication. The type of headache, frequency, and cause all influence how headaches are treated.

What Are The Treatments For Migraines?

Migraines are chronic and can often be managed. Medications for this condition can be divided into abortive and preventive treatment.

  • Acute: The symptoms of a migraine attack are treated with acute migraine medications while they are still prevalent.
  • Preventive: Preventive medications are administered to stop migraine attacks from happening. They aren’t meant to be used to treat a migraine attack as it’s happening. However, the frequency and severity of severe headaches can be reduced with preventative medicines.

Ready to Find Relief From Your Migraines or Headaches?

The Headache Wellness Center offers treatment services for issues related to tension headaches and migraine headaches. If you think you may be suffering from either of these, contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn about our program in more detail.