What’s the Difference Between Migraines and Headaches?

Migraines and headaches are different things that do have some similarities. They are both bothersome, vary in frequency and strength, and also have different classifications within them. Headache disorders cover both headaches and migraines, and naturally, people tend to get them confused. If you are suffering from frequent headaches, knowing the difference between them may help you talk to your doctor and get the treatment needed.

migraine, woman, pain

When it’s a Headache

Headaches cause pain in the head, face, or upper neck. There are two main groups for headaches, primary and secondary. Primary is when there is pain in the face, head, and neck that is caused by an independent condition. Examples of primary headaches are tension headaches and migraines. Secondary headaches occur due to other medical conditions, such as medication overuse, stress, and infection. Two of the most common types of headaches are:

  • Tension Headaches– Intense band of pressure around the head.
  • Cluster Headaches– Severe pain on one side of the head, often behind one eye. Numerous headaches occur around the same time every day.

Over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen are typically helpful for occasional headaches. Chronic headaches are often prescribed antidepressants to help with the guide of your doctor.

When it’s a Migraine

Migraines are severe headaches, along with other symptoms. The pain is an intense throbbing, usually on one side of the head, and can last hours or several days. The other symptoms that come with the headache are a part of the four phases of a migraine. Not everyone will experience all phases, but common symptoms are:

  • Mood changes
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, or smells
  • Blurred vision
  • Blind spots that increase over time
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Slurred or jumbled speech
  • Nausea

Milder migraines can also be treated with over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. More severe migraines may not respond to these options, and medication can be prescribed at your doctor’s advice. Those options include antidepressants, anti-nausea medications, Botox injections, triptans, and ergot alkaloids.

migraine pain

Though there are several options available for treating migraines, more work continues to be done to ensure there are effective therapies for everyone. Participating in migraine studies is another way you can help advance those options, and possibly gain access to potential new treatment options in the process. If you are interested in learning more about the migraine studies enrolling here at ForCare, call (813) 264-2155 or visit our website.