We all get the occasional headache, either from stress, tension, illness, dehydration, or overexertion. But for some people, headaches can be a regular occurrence that significantly impacts their quality of life. If you suffer from constant severe headaches, you may be wondering if they’re just bad headaches, or if you might actually have migraines.
What is a Headache?
A headache is defined as pain in any region of the head. Headaches can be caused by a variety of things, including muscle tension, head trauma, dehydration, allergens, stress, and illness. There are many different types of headaches, but the most common are tension headaches. Other common types of headaches include cluster and sinus headaches.
What is a Migraine?
Migraines are a type of headache that mainly affects one side of the head. They can last for hours or even days, and they’re often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. People with migraines may also experience “aura” symptoms prior to the onset of the headache attack, such as visual disturbances or changes in smell or taste. For many people, migraines are so debilitating that they can’t function during an attack.
Headaches VS Migraines: The Differences
Now that we’ve defined both headaches and migraines, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between the two.
Duration: As we mentioned, migraines can last for hours or even days, while headaches are typically shorter in duration, lasting between 30 minutes to a few hours.
Intensity: Headaches can range from mild to severe, but they are never as intense as migraines. Migraine pain is often described as throbbing or pulsing, and it can be so severe that it’s debilitating.
Symptoms: As we mentioned, migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. In some cases, migraine can occur in stages, namely prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Headaches, on the other hand, may or may not have any accompanying symptoms.
Location: Migraines usually affect only one side of the head, while headaches can occur on either side or all over the head.
Cause: The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they’re thought to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Headaches, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of things, including muscle tension, head trauma, dehydration, allergens, stress, and illness.
Treatment: There is no cure for migraines, but there are treatments that can help to relieve the pain and other symptoms. Headaches can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
While headaches and migraines share some commonalities, they are two distinct disorders with different causes and treatments. If you experience occasional headaches, over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or Tylenol can help relieve the pain.
However, if you experience migraines, you may need to see a doctor for prescription medication or make lifestyle changes to find relief. Either way, don’t suffer in silence – if your headaches are keeping you from living your life to the fullest, it’s time to see a doctor.