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Differences between Migraines and Headaches

Differences between Migraines and Headaches

August 17, 2021

When you’re experiencing head pain, it’s not always easy to tell whether it’s caused by a migraine or a headache. Both of these conditions can cause significant pain that makes living your day-to-day life challenging. Differentiating between the two is key to finding a treatment that works, and if you regularly experience head pain, you are likely searching for an effective pain management solution. At Integrated Health Solutions, our chiropractors commonly assist individuals who complain of head pain. We are familiar with the differences between traditional headaches and migraines and can help you determine which you’re dealing with. 

What Are Headaches?

Headaches refer to general pain that happens in your head. You may experience pressure or soreness that ranges from mild to severe. Typically, headache pain occurs on both sides of the head, although it can affect specific areas such as the temples, forehead, or back of the head. Headaches may last for minutes or days depending on the cause. Tension headaches are the most common type and are often caused by anxiety, muscle strain and stress. 

There are other kinds of headaches including sinus headaches. If you have head pain alongside fever, cough, congestion and a stuffy nose, you may be dealing with a sinus headache. Infections of the sinus cavities are painful and are distinguished by other flu-like symptoms that often occur alongside them. Or, you might have cluster headaches, which cause severe pain that happens on one side of the head. They receive their name because the attacks happen in cycles. In most cases, headache pain occurs on its own without any other additional symptoms.

What is a Migraine?

Unlike headaches, migraines are usually more intensive in nature and cause additional neurological symptoms that may impair a person. These headaches sometimes are preceded by a prodrome stage and an aura, which are warning signs of upcoming pain. During a prodrome stage, a person may have mood changes, food cravings and yawn frequently. About half an hour before the attack, they may experience an aura, which includes visual changes such as seeing glowing spots or jagged lines. 

Migraines typically cause more severe pain that lasts for a longer amount of time. In addition to pain, these headaches occur alongside a combination of symptoms, including: 

  • Pain behind one eye
  • Visual changes, such as flashing or spots
  • Sensitivity to sound and/or light
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing pain

A migraine attack can be very distressing and stop a person in their tracks. If you experience migraines, you may be able to do nothing but lay in a dark room until the attack is over. 

Treating Headaches and Migraines

Essentially, the difference between migraines and headaches is in the symptoms they cause. Headaches are very common among those with stress and generally are an occasional problem. If you regularly experience intense pain alongside symptoms such as visual auras, nausea and photophobia, you likely have migraines. Regardless, a chiropractor can provide the relief you need to enjoy life to its fullest. Many migraine and headache patients found success alongside our chiropractors, and we hope to work with you as well. 

Call Us Today

If you face regular headaches and migraines, visit Integrated Health Solutions to learn how you can manage your symptoms through chiropractic care.   

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