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Difference Between Migraine and Headache

migraineMigraine vs Headache

Almost everyone gets headaches at times. So how do you know whether it is a migraine or a common headache? Take a look at the differences below, and identify what you have-before you rush to a doctor!

How Do I Know Whether It Is A Migraine Or A Common Headache?

A migraine attack is usually centered on one side of your head. The pain usually starts as a dull throb or a tightening and then intensifies into a concentrated and severe pain.

If it is a migraine attack, you will always be sensitive to light and noise when you are getting the attack. Physical work will make it worse. So, you will often find people with migraines preferring to lie indoors in the dark when they are having an attack. Most patients will report a nausea or lack of appetite during the attacks. What’s more, they may also suffer from sensations of extreme warmth or chills.

A headache that is being caused by other reasons-notably tension or sinus infections, will not have the symptoms above. A ‘tension headache’ will usually originate on the forehead and spread down the nape of your neck and the shoulders. A sinus headache is usually accompanied by a runny nose and a fever. These symptoms will clearly distinguish migraines from other headaches.

What Are The Different Reasons Behind Migraines And Other Headaches?

Migraines are the result of the constriction and dilation in the blood vessels of the head. It may be caused by a number of triggers like tyramine in the food etc. Heredity plays a major role in the disease and it is more likely to be passed on from a mother to a daughter. Headaches may be caused by anything between stress and tiredness. It may also be the result of factors like alcohol, eye strain, sinus infection or a poor posture! Basically, they are factors that can be controlled by a person. There is no heredity involved in normal headaches.

What Are The Different Treatments?

Your doctor might prescribe both abortive and preventive medications for your migraine. Abortive medications like NSAIDs may be prescribed. Preventive medications may lessen the intensity of the attacks and cause them to occur less frequently. Other headaches may be treated by your doctor on a symptomatic basis. For instance, you may be prescribed mild pain killers to control your headache. If your headache is due to a sinus infection, you will be advised an antibiotic. If you are getting a tension headache, the doctor might advise you on stress relieving medications or exercise.

Summary:
1.  Migraines are hereditary conditions caused by a number of triggers. Other headaches may be caused by tension, sinus infections or other controllable triggers.
2. A migraine starts on one side of the head, and may be accompanied by nausea, an aura in your vision and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Other headaches do not have these characteristics.
3. Migraines are treated by preventive and abortive medications. Headaches are treated on a symptomatic basis.


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1 Comment

  1. I am a Chiropractor in Reno, NV and I help people with headaches everyday. Most headaches (Migraines especially) will have a trigger so I advise my patients to keep a headache diary. When you have a headache write down what you ate and drank that day, how much sleep you had the previous night, how much stress you experienced that day, etc. If you can identify your triggers (which can be very different from person to person) you will be better equipped to deal with them and avoid them. I also recommend that people get evaluated by their chiropractor, because a lot of tension and migraine headaches can be caused by spinal misalignments, which a chiropractor is trained in treating.

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