What’s the Difference Between a Migraine and a Headache

Many migraine sufferers have their problems compounded by those who don’t fully understand the difference between a migraine and a headache. Many people believe that a migraine is just a “bad headache”, which is an oversimplification at best.

Of course, it’s difficult to know a pain you’ve never felt, and it’s difficult for anyone who’s never had a migraine to understand what makes these devastating incidents so disruptive.

Today, we’re going to dive into the difference between a migraine and a headache, how to tell the difference, and how to treat each.

What Exactly is a Headache?

Headaches are fairly common, and can affect anyone of any age. They can be a mild to intense pain that typically affect both sides of the head.

Headaches are typically most intense around the temples, forehead, and the back of the neck where your spine connects to your skull.

Headaches can be brought on by a myriad of factors, including sinus issues, stress, muscle tension, poor diet, and various other issues.

What Exactly is a Migraine?

A migraine is a much more severe form of headache that comes bundled with a group of other symptoms that can include:

● Nausea
● Pain behind one eye or ear
● Pain in the temples
● Seeing spots or flashing lights
● Sensitivity to light and/or sound
● Temporary vision loss
● Vomiting

Migraines range from moderate to severe on the pain scale and can make performing everyday tasks difficult to impossible. Many people end up seeking emergency room care for severe migraines, especially if they’ve never experienced one before.

Migraines are also harder to treat, and typically last longer than a tension or sinus headache. The extra symptoms such as nausea and vomiting can make it difficult to keep medicine down as well.

Difference Between a Migraine and a Headache

The primary difference between a migraine and a regular headache is the severity of the pain. A full-fledged migraine will involve pain that is much more severe. Migraine sufferers also have to deal with other symptoms such as nausea.

Migraines can also present with an “aura” which includes other sensory issues such as sensitivity to lights or sound, tingling sensation in the extremities, seeing flashing lights, and even depression and mood swings. This can make it difficult to deal with, or treat migraines, but it does give a very good litmus test: if you have aura symptoms, you’re having or about to have a migraine.

Treating a Headache

Headaches can typically be treated very well with over-the-counter medication, and only rarely require professional medical help. Some effective medications include:

● Acetaminophen
● Aspirin
● Ibuprofen
● Caffeine

There are a number of other treatments that have been shown to help as well, including neck stretching, relaxation techniques, meditation, and warm compresses/showers. These are all fairly effective for treating stress or tension headaches.

If you have a sudden severe or unusually persistent headache, contact your doctor immediately as this may be the sign of a serious condition such as migraines, stroke, or other neurological issue.

Treating a Migraine

Migraine treatment is typically much more involved than the treatment for a headache. Typical headache treatments will be minimally effective at best, and will do almost nothing to prevent a migraine.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to break a migraine headache at home, so you’ll want to identify your migraine triggers if at all possible and then do whatever you can to avoid them.

Common triggers include:
● Alcohol
● Caffeine
● Aged Cheeses or other Aged Foods
● Stress

Beyond that, there are several medication options for treating migraines, but you’ll need to visit a doctor for them. These include:

● Antinausea medicines, such as promethazine (Phenergan), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), or prochlorperazine (Compazine).
● Triptans, such as almotriptan (Axert), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, and Zecuity).
Finally, there have been several studies that have shown that botox injections are extremely effective at preventing migraine headaches in chronic sufferers.

Migraine Treatment from Doctor Binder

If you are interested in botox injections for migraine treatment, contact Doctor William J. Binder today! Doctor Binder is the pioneer of botox for migraine treatments, and is considered the foremost authority on the application of botox for this purpose.