Tension headaches and migraines are two of the most common types of headaches. While they may have similar symptoms, they are caused by different factors and require different treatments. Tension headaches are usually caused by stress, worry, or tiredness. They cause the muscles of the scalp, neck, and jaw to tighten, resulting in a dull pain that is felt on both sides of the head.
Tension headaches are not usually associated with visual disturbances, nausea, or vomiting. Physical activity does not worsen tension headache pain, but it can aggravate migraine pain. An increased sensitivity to light or sound can occur with a tension headache, but this symptom is not common. Migraines are severe, throbbing headaches that occur only on one side or worsen on one side.
They are characterized by severe, throbbing or pulsating pain and can be accompanied by increased sensitivity to both light and sound. Nausea and vomiting may also occur with a migraine attack. If you experience a headache that is very different in quality or severity 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. If over-the-counter medicines don't stop your headaches well enough or if you have a lot of headaches, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent headaches.
Botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) is sometimes injected into the muscles of the face and head to treat headaches. Detecting and avoiding things or triggers that cause tension headaches can reduce how often headaches occur and how severe they occur when you have them. Knowing if you have a tension headache or migraine will help you choose an appropriate treatment plan for relief. Combination therapies containing butalbital or opioids are generally not recommended for the treatment of tension headache because of the risk of tolerance, dependence, toxicity and the development of drug overuse headache.