How can you tell the difference between a headache and a migraine?

Headaches cause pain in the head, face, or upper neck, and can vary in frequency and intensity. A migraine is an extremely painful primary headache disorder. Migraines often produce symptoms that are more intense and debilitating than headaches. However, some types of migraines do not cause a headache.

If you have a migraine, you probably only have pain on one side of your head. Sometimes you may have pain on both sides of your head when you have a migraine, but the pain is likely to feel more severe on one side. A tension headache is accompanied by a dull pain and tension or pressure; a migraine headache produces a strong heartbeat or pulse. You feel it on one or both sides of your head.

A cluster headache causes stinging or extreme burning near one eye. Identifying and treating headaches as early as possible can help a person participate in preventive treatments to minimize the chance of having another headache. Doctors trained to identify different types of headaches, such as internal medicine specialists, neurologists or allergists, can help diagnose the cause of headaches. If a person takes medicine for migraine headache more than 10 days a month, this could cause an effect known as rebound headaches.

It can be difficult to determine what the normal frequency of headaches and migraines is, so if you experience more headaches or migraines than usual, contact your doctor or visit Indigo Urgent Care to discuss what is happening and if you need to find a specialist. Sinus headaches are often treated with decongestants, antihistamines, and sometimes antibiotics, if the headache is caused by a bacterial infection. If you experience a headache that is very different in quality or severity (the worst headache of your life) than your usual headaches, or that is associated with unusual symptoms or is associated with an elevated temperature, you need immediate medical evaluation to exclude serious underlying causes. Although many people believe that any moderate to severe headache is a migraine, there are specific criteria regarding the type of pain and the associated symptoms, which lead to the diagnosis of migraine.

Although it may be tempting to treat headaches at home, repeated or recurrent use of medications can cause a condition known as a drug-overuse headache, a condition in which headaches occur almost daily. Cluster headaches are very painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and come in groups. Although many people describe all moderate to severe headaches as “migraine,” there are specific criteria used to identify migraine, tension, and other less common varieties of headache. Migraines are one of several headache disorders and share some similarities with these other types of disorders.

Pain for each type of headache can be localized on one side of the head or on both sides of the head. They have to use these medications because they make them feel better in about an hour, but if they have a recurring headache and continue to take those medications, it irritates the nervous system, making the next headache more severe and more likely to occur with few stimuli.