Headaches & Migraines – How To Tell The Difference

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Headaches & Migraines – How To Tell The Difference

Suffering from headaches on a regular basis is an unpleasant experience in all cases. When these events are severe or recurring, one question people ask themselves is whether it’s a headache or a migraine. Being aware of the key differences between the two conditions can be extremely helpful…

About Headaches

Pain will be moderate to severe, and on one or both sides of the head. Headaches often affect the temples, forehead and back of the neck. These are frequently known as tension headaches, and can be brought on by work stress, personal anxiety, or muscle strain.

Examples of other headaches include cluster headaches, which are as described in the name and usually affect one side of the head. Such attacks often come in cycles, with pain-free periods between each.


Thunderclap headaches are, as their name might suggest, frankly frightening, and form very quickly, often in less than a minute. These are suggestive of a serious medical condition or event that requires immediate and emergency medical attention.

Finally, sinus headaches occur along with infections such as fever, congestion, coughs and stuffy noses. These can often be mistaken for a migraine.

About Migraines

An intense, throbbing and severe experience, a migraine can often be so debilitating that sufferers will seek emergency medical care. A migraine can affect either one or both sides of the head. Sufferers often find it simply impossible to carry on with their daily tasks and routines.

A migraine attack is often identifiable by a range of other symptoms. These can include pain over one eye, beside one ear, or in the temples; a sensitivity to either light or sound; seeing flashing lights or spots, or temporary loss of vision. Sufferers may also feel nauseous and need to vomit.

Some people who have regular migraine episodes can even experience some conditions before the actual event itself. Such signals have been known to include feeling depressed or irritable, yawning more frequently than normal, constipation, or stiffness in the neck.

The Migraine Aura and Possible Triggers

This may sound slightly otherworldly, but it has been found that some sufferers are subject to a range of possible sensations a few minutes prior to the onset of an attack. This can include a sudden change to their sense of touch, taste or smell; feeling tingling or numb sensations either in their hands or face, and having trouble thinking clearly as their mental alertness seems to decrease.

In terms of other signs leading to a migraine, sufferers have identified a variety of possible triggers. These have ranged from the use of contraceptives, hormonal changes, alcohol, and emotional anxiety.


The above is by no means a comprehensive guide, but it should help with the identification of a possible migraine attack compared to other types of debilitating headaches. Identification can be effective in finding preventative treatments and actions to help avoid future events.

Seeking professional medical help is also a given, but if you want to talk about your own situation, please contact us today.