Headaches vs Migraines: What Are the Differences?

Nothing ruins a day like a headache. They can make you feel drained, irritable, nauseated, and foggy-brained.

There are several different types of headache disorders. From tension-type headaches to cluster headaches and even rebound headaches. Of these, migraines pop into the spotlight.

But what are the differences between headaches vs migraines? We’ll dive into all the facts in this article.

What is a Headache?

There are many forms of headaches. Specialists have divided them into two basic categories: primary and secondary.

Primary Headaches

This is a type of headache that is caused by a problem with the structures in your head that are responsible for sensing and processing pain. This includes the nerves, blood vessels, and muscle tissue. They are not caused by another medical condition.

Treatments can include medication, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes. Some will go away on their own, while others may need long-term treatment.

Secondary Headaches

This is a headache that is caused by another underlying condition or problem. This includes head injury, stress, drug use, and infections.

Treatment focuses on the underlying condition. For example, if you have a headache from a hangover, you would treat it with fluids and pain relievers. If you have a headache caused by an infection, you would treat it with antibiotics.

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are more severe with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Intense, pulsating headaches from migraines can continue for several hours to many days.

Although it affects one side of the head, both sides of the brain occasionally become painful. They are recurrent and triggered by stress, changes in weather, and certain foods. There is no cure for migraines, but there are treatments that can help to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks.

Headaches vs Migraines: The Differences

Headaches and migraines are often confused because they share many similarities. Both can cause debilitating pain and interfere with everyday activities. There are some critical differences between the two.

Migraines are usually much more severe than headaches and can last for hours or even days. It tends to run in families, while headaches do not.

Migraines are often preceded by an “aura”. This is a visual or sensory disturbance that can include seeing flashes of light or experiencing blind spots. Headaches do not include an aura.

See a doctor if you are unsure whether you are experiencing a headache or a migraine. They can help you determine the cause of your pain and recommend the best treatment.

Understanding Headaches and Migraines

Though both cause pain, there are key differences between headaches vs migraines. Headaches are less severe and do not include other symptoms like nausea and light sensitivity. Headaches are the most common type of pain.

Migraines are less common but can be much more severe. If you’re not sure which type of pain you’re experiencing, it’s important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

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