What is the Difference Between Headaches and Migraines?

What is the Difference Between Headaches and Migraines?

Aug 01, 2020

W.H.O (World Health Organization) reports that more than half of adults suffer from headaches disorders, and some experience migraines. Knowing how to differentiate between a headache and migraine helps to identify the causes and treatments.

What is a Headache?

Headaches are pressure and aching in your head, and it can range from mild to severe. The pain can occur to the back of the neck, temples, and forehead. The pain lasts for 30 minutes to about a week, and it affects both sides.

There are different types of headaches:

  • Tension headaches are common and are triggered by stress, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Sometimes dental problems such as severe cavities and jaw problems can cause tension headaches. Visit our dentist in Calgary, AB.
  • Cluster headaches develop in clusters and usually affect one side of the head. This means you have episodes of severe pain and pain-free sessions.
  • Sinus headaches develop with other sinus infection symptoms such as fever, congestion, and facial pressure. It is usually confused with migraines, but sinus headaches disappear when these symptoms clear.
  • Chiari headaches are caused by a Chiari malformation—a congenital disability that causes the skull to push against the brain. The pain occurs on the back of the head.
  • Thunderclap headaches are severe and occur in 60 seconds. It is caused by stroke, aneurysm, and other injuries. It could also be a symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

What is a Migraine?

Migraines are intense and, at times, occurs in recurring episodes. Headaches are a symptom of migraine and not another word for it. Migraines are triggered by emotional anxiety, menopause, hormonal changes, and contraceptives. Most migraines occur in phases:

  • The preheadache phase has nonpainful symptoms that occur days before the actual head occurs. Some of the symptoms include unexplained mood changes, stiffness of the neck, constipation, and diarrhea, food cravings, and sensitivity to the light.
  • Aura phase are sensations that occur before the actual migraine pain such as flashing lights blurred vision and blind spots
  • Headaches phase
  • The postdrome phase is when the headache subsides.

Migraines are divided into migraines with aura and those without aura. Aura is the sensations or sensory disturbance that occur before the actual migraine. Aura sensations include trouble thinking, unusual smell and taste, and tightening of the face or hands.

Migraines without aura cause intense and throbbing pain on the side of the head. These headaches last between four and 72 hours.

Other types of migraines include:

  • Abnormal migraines affect children between three and ten years.
  • Hemiplegic migraine is rare, and it causes temporary paralysis during the headache. You may also experience dizziness, vision problem, difficulty speaking, and trouble moving one side of the body.

Although migraines can affect anyone, several factors can increase your risk like:

  • Being female
  • Family history of migraines
  • Mood and sleep disorders

Migraines Vs. Headaches

  • Occurrence

Migraine affects one side of the head, although, at times, you may develop migraines on both sides.
Headaches affect both sides.

  • Pain quality
    Migraines are intense with throbbing pain and will make performing tasks very difficult. Headaches are mild with a dull pressure.
  • Additional symptoms
    Other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, seeing blind spots can also develop. Most times, headaches do not have other symptoms.

Treatment Options

Treatments for headaches

  • Pain-relieving medication
  • Relaxation techniques, such as heat therapy, massage, mediation, neck stretching, and relaxation exercises.

Treatment of migraines

Migraines are chronic, and at times treatments do not work. Preventing migraines is better, and here are some tips:

  • Change your diet and eliminate drinks such as coffee and alcohol
  • Take antidepressants, blood pressure-lowering medications, and reduce stress.
  • Pain relievers, anti-nausea medication, can go a long way in managing migraines.

When to See a Doctor?

Visit your doctor if you experience headaches accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness in the head, limbs or neck
  • Difficulty thinking and speaking

Take Away

Most people experience a headache or migraines at some point. Knowing the difference between these two is crucial in how you handle the symptoms. Sometimes, dental problems are a trigger of headaches. Visit Chaparral Valley Dental, and our dentist in Calgary will recommend a suitable treatment.

403-283-3682 Book an Appointment