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Differences Between Migraine and Headache

Published On Nov 16, 2020

Headaches and migraines are similar, but they have their differences. A headache is a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. A migraine can be defined as a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. Headaches are caused due to lack of sleep, incorrect eyeglass prescription, stress, loud noise exposure, or tight head war. Migraines can have symptoms like pain in the eyes, face, neck, sensitivity to light, distorted vision, light-headedness, nausea, and vomiting.

A medical professional's diagnosis of a migraine can be made based on the patient’s clinical history, symptoms experienced and eliminating other possibilities. The two most common migraines categories are ones with an aura, which are known as common migraines, and ones without aura, which are classic migraines.

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Symptoms of Migraine

  • People experience varying symptoms of migraines. Some of the symptoms of migraines are listed below:
  • People experience extreme food cravings. They consume unusual amounts of food, usually junk food.
  • People experience bouts of depression before and during the periods when they get a migraine.
  • People often experience low energy when a migraine is coming. They are more tired than usual.
  • Frequent yawning
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness

Differences Between Migraine and Headaches

One of the main differences between migraines and headaches is that headaches can occur at any point in a person’s life. Still, migraines can begin in childhood or occur until early adulthood but do not occur after this period.

Migraines are more likely to have a genetic component as well. A history of migraines will mean that the person is more likely to experience migraines in their lifetime. Headaches are not hereditary and can be experienced at any point in time by almost anyone.

People may experience tension headaches but mistake them to be migraines. Tension headaches usually occur when one has pain on the head's sides, tight pressure rather than a throbbing feel, and the pain is not severe. A person experiencing a migraine would have moderate to severe throbbing pain on one side of the head. The pain will worsen with time if there is much physical exertion. Pain around the eyes and temples is often noticed with migraines. The affected person becomes very sensitive towards bright lights or strong smells. People with migraines also report that they experience a tingling feeling in their faces or arms before experiencing a migraine.

Headaches usually occur periodically and occur daily, which is dangerous. In contrast, migraines are mostly experienced two times in a month but can also occur about two to four times in a year for some people.

Lack of sleep is one of the most common reasons for migraines, whereas headaches are most often experienced by people who are extremely stressed about something.

Treatment of Migraine and Headache

Treatment for headaches and migraines are different as well. Headaches are simpler to treat as they require the person affected to obtain rest for a while, use hot and cold compresses, and consume small amounts of caffeinated products. Migraines can be treated by prescribed medication given to the patient by a medical professional. Other treatments include avoiding or averting migraine triggers, getting sleep, and reducing stress.

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Migraines and headaches are similar, but they do have their differences. They can be easily differentiated and diagnosed by a licensed medical professional. Few health insurances even cover migraine. One should take precautionary measures and treatments necessary to prevent future migraines or at least reduce their impact.

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Disclaimer: This article is issued in general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.​

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