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Migraine vs. Headache: What’s the Difference?

June 30, 2022

Migraine vs. Headache: What’s the Difference?


Most of us are familiar with the throbbing aches in our temples. But are they just another headache? Chances are, it may be a migraine. 

Migraines impact over 37 million people in the United States, however, only five percent of those affected have been accurately diagnosed and received proper care. 

We all know what it feels like to have an uncomfortable pain in our head that isn’t caused by a head injury or exhaustion. It can leave us feeling uncomfortable at work, or it can be debilitating enough to make us sensitive to lights or sounds. 

Keep reading to find out the difference between a headache and migraine and how you can treat them. 

What Is a Headache?

Primary headaches are a common experience. In fact, of all the ailments that can afflict the nervous system, headaches are the most typical. They cause a constant ache in the head that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to days.

Additionally, they are usually felt on both sides of the head or at specific points on the face. 

Headache pains range from mild to severe, but most people are able to live normally while they experience a headache. You may have an aching pain in your head that isn’t going away, but you might still be able to go to work or watch a movie. 

Different Types of Headaches

There are a few different types of headaches, and they are all caused by different medical conditions. It’s important to know which type of headache you are experiencing. That way, you can treat it properly and know what to expect.


Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. If you have a tension headache, you may probably feel pain on both sides of the head. Additionally, the pain commonly starts at the back of the head and slowly creeps forwards. 

Tension headaches are brought on by emotional or physical stress. Eyestrain and hunger are also common causes of tension headaches, and they can be chronic. 

Because of this, the best way to avoid a tension-type headache is to manage your stress levels and focus on your wellness. Although staying calm is easier said than done, you can prevent tension headaches through lifestyle changes, such as relaxation techniques. 

These practices could include meditation, doing breathing exercises, or exercising regularly. The pain caused by a tension headache can be bothersome, but it won’t be as intense as that experienced by migraine sufferers.


Are you feeling signs of congestion? A sinus headache might be the cause. If you have a sinus headache, you may feel intense, concentrated pain behind your nose, cheeks, or eyes. The pain might worsen when you bend forward, increasing the pressure on this part of your face. 

The pain caused by a sinus headache may feel concentrated in the middle of the face, whereas the pain of a migraine may be felt primarily on one side of the head. 


Cluster headaches get their name because they are cyclical. The headache symptoms from a cluster headache are usually intense and concentrated, commonly felt behind one eye or cheek. 

If you are experiencing the same level of pain in the same location every day, you most likely are experiencing a cluster headache. 

Once again, the pain from a cluster headache may be concentrated in one point of your head or face, while a migraine usually causes pain on the entirety of one side of your head. 

Additionally, cluster headaches may range from 30 minutes to a few hours, and then reappear the next day. On the other hand, migraines can last up to 72 hours and usually do not reappear cyclically. 

What Is a Migraine? 

A migraine is a type of headache that usually causes severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on one side, due to an inflammation of the nerves and blood vessels in the head. 

Migraine attacks can cause head pain that lasts for hours to days, and the discomfort can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. 

A migraine is much more serious than a common headache. It is a neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms. The side effects may likely worsen with strenuous physical activity, muscle tension, and exposure to lights, sounds, or smells. 

There are also genetic disorders that cause frequent migraines in some people. 

Symptoms of a Migraine

The symptoms of migraines can look different in every person and vary slightly depending on the type of migraine. However, they usually build in severity over a day or two, which is different from a headache. 

For the first day or two, you may experience symptoms that have nothing to do with your migraine. Some symptoms may include mood changes, stiffness in your neck, sensitivity to light, and strange food cravings. Your migraine may move into its next phase, where you might experience visual disturbances or find your ability to think or communicate more difficult. 

You might see flashing lights or blind spots in your vision, as well as have jumbled speech or difficulty thinking clearly. 

Then suddenly, your migraine may fully set in, and you may feel an intense pain on one side of your head. As a result, bright lights, strong smells, and physical activity may worsen the pain.

Causes of Migraines

While headaches usually have traceable causes, migraines have many different potential triggers. If you suffer from migraines, you may find that common factors trigger their onset.

Triggers vary from person to person and may include:

  • Hormonal changes, due to gender, pregnancy, medication, or pregnancy 
  • A family history of migraines can lead you to experience migraines more frequently
  • High blood pressure 
  • Changes in your environment can cause a migraine, such as a change in weather, foods, a lack of sleep, or an increase in stress levels
  • Allergies, specifically allergic rhinitis

How To Help Treat Migraines and Headaches

While there is no specific cure for headaches and migraines, there are ways to help treat your symptoms and prevent future episodes. 

Home Remedies

The most important thing to do when experiencing a migraine is to sit in a quiet, dark room to lessen your exposure to loud sounds or lights, which are agitators to a migraine. 

Stay Hydrated: Be sure to apply a warm or cold compress to your neck, and drink plenty of water. The cold compress can have a numbing effect, and a warm compress can relax tense muscles. Hydrating properly can help reduce your migraine if it is triggered by dehydration. 

Massage: If it doesn’t cause you pain, massaging your temples can help your muscles relax and decrease the severity of your symptoms. 


Lastly, a few over-the-counter medications may help reduce your symptoms or shorten the duration of your migraine pain, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Remember that medication-overuse headaches can occur with the continued use of some pain relievers.

IV Therapy Treatment

If you have chronic migraines or have tried every home remedy and nothing has worked, you are probably ready for a more efficient solution to ease your severe headache. 

Migraine Relief IV therapy is the perfect option when people experience migraines that never seem to go away or improve with home remedies or medication. 

The process is quick, easy, and designed for your own comfort. 


Start a journal to keep track of your migraine or headache patterns. This will help identify triggers and allow you to address them directly. Be sure to note factors like the time of day, when and where your migraine or headache occurred, and the activities that occurred before symptoms began. 

At The I.V. DOC, we’re here to help you through every step of the way! When you’re sick, distressed, dehydrated, or just exhausted, the last thing you want is to travel to a medical clinic. 

We strive to provide I.V. services that are prompt, affordable, and comfortable – allowing you to get the best treatment you need in the comfort of your home, office, or hotel. 



Tension Headache | Temple Health

How Long Does a Migraine Attack Last? | AMF

Facts About Migraine | American Migraine Foundation

« Back to Blog | The I.V. Doc Information on Dehydration, Jet Lag, Hangovers, Food Poisoning and Vitamin Drips

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