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Migraine Vs. Headache: How To Tell The Difference!

Migraine VS Headache: A throbbing pain is a condition that does not let us work properly. When we are having this pain in our head, it becomes so irritating for us to adjust. There are people who have a headache, and some are there who suffer from migraine.

Some people have clarity regarding these, and some don’t. Well, migraines and headaches might seem similar, but they're actually quite different. In this article, we'll discuss these in detail, along with differences. If you're curious about what's causing that throbbing in your head, keep reading to learn more about the contrasts between migraines and headaches. Let’s get started!

About Migraine:

A migraine is a specific headache that goes beyond the usual head discomfort. It's a neurological condition that can cause severe throbbing or pulsing pain, often on one side of the head. People who experience migraines might also have other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and even visual disturbances known as "auras."

In some cases, it happens that migraines can last for hours or even days, and they can greatly disrupt a person's daily life.

Causes of Migraine:

In this section, we will help you to know about the causes of migraine in detail:


High levels of stress or sudden emotional changes can trigger migraines in some individuals. Stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises and mindfulness, can help reduce the likelihood of migraines.

Certain Foods:

Some foods, such as aged cheeses, processed meats, alcohol, and foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate), can trigger migraines in individuals who are quite allergic to these. Keeping a food diary and identifying personal triggers can be helpful in managing migraines.

Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women, can trigger migraines. Women often experience migraines during their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause due to shifts in estrogen levels.

Environmental Factors:

Bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, and changes in weather or barometric pressure can trigger migraines for some people. Minimizing exposure to these triggers and creating a calm environment can be helpful.

Lack of Sleep:

Changes in sleep patterns, such as insufficient sleep or irregular sleep schedules, can lead to migraines. Maintaining a consistent sleep routine and ensuring adequate rest can help prevent migraine episodes.Top of Form

About Headache:

Headaches are common and typically described as pain or discomfort in the head or upper neck area. They can range from mild to severe and can vary in duration. Headaches are often categorized into two main types: primary and secondary.

Headaches can have various triggers, including stress, fatigue, dehydration, poor posture, and certain foods or beverages. Lifestyle modifications, stress management techniques, proper hydration, and adequate rest can often help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. If headaches become persistent, severe, or accompanied by unusual symptoms, it's recommended to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Causes of headache:

In this section we will help you to know about the causes of headaches in detail:

Tension and Stress:

One of the most prevalent causes of headaches is tension and stress. Stress can lead to muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and head, resulting in a tension-type headache. These headaches often feel like a tight band around the head.


Inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration, which can trigger headaches. Dehydration affects the brain's blood vessels, leading to pain. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help prevent this type of headache.

Sinus Issues:

Sinusitis or sinus infections can cause headaches, especially when there is pressure or inflammation in the sinuses. The pain is often felt in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes.

Caffeine Withdrawal:

For those who regularly consume caffeine, suddenly reducing or eliminating caffeine intake can lead to withdrawal headaches. These headaches are often characterized by throbbing pain and can be accompanied by fatigue and irritability.

Eye Strain:

Prolonged activities such as reading, using digital screens, or focusing on small objects can strain the eye muscles and lead to headaches. This type of headache is often referred to as a "computer" or "eyestrain" headache.

Difference Between Migraine and Headache:

After knowing about headaches and migraines in general, you might be curious to know about the differences as well. These are as follows:

Intensity of Pain:

Migraines typically involve severe, throbbing pain that can be debilitating. On the other hand, Regular headaches usually involve mild to moderate pain that is not as intense as migraines.

Location of Pain:

Migraines often occur on one side of the head and can shift sides during different attacks. On the other hand, Regular headaches are usually felt on both sides of the head.

Associated Symptoms:

Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and sensitivity to sound (phonophobia). On the other hand, Regular headaches may not have these additional symptoms.


Migraines can last for hours to days, sometimes even up to 72 hours. On the other hand, Regular headaches typically last for a shorter duration, often a few hours.


Various factors, including stress, hormonal changes, specific foods, strong smells, and changes in sleep patterns can trigger migraines. On the other hand, Regular headaches can be triggered by factors such as tension, dehydration, eye strain, or sinus problems.


Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by visual disturbances called auras, which can include flashing lights or zigzag patterns. On the other hand, Regular headaches do not usually involve auras.

Impact on Daily Activities:

Migraines often significantly disrupt daily activities due to their intensity and associated symptoms. On the other hand, regular headaches may cause discomfort but generally have a milder impact on daily life.

Response to Pain Relievers:

Migraines may not always respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers and might require specific migraine medications. On the other hand, Regular headaches often respond well to common pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

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Dr. Himanshu Gupta brings years of experience and expertise in the field of neurosurgery, specializing in the treatment of migraines and headaches. His in-depth knowledge ensures accurate diagnosis and best treatment plans.

FAQ: Migraine vs. Headache

1. What can I do to prevent headaches and migraines?

Stay hydrated, manage stress, sleep regularly, and identify and avoid personal triggers.

2. Can over-the-counter pain relievers help with migraines?

They might provide relief for some headaches, but specific migraine medications are considered by a doctor that is more effective.

3. How can I manage light sensitivity during a migraine attack?

Find a dark, quiet room, use sunglasses indoors, and reduce screen time to minimize light exposure.

4. Are there lifestyle changes that can reduce migraine frequency?

Yes, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, managing stress, and having a balanced diet can help reduce migraine occurrences.

5. When should I see a doctor about my headaches or migraines?

If your headaches are severe, frequent, or accompanied by other unusual symptoms, it's best to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.