Migraine vs. Headache

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Difference between Migraine and Headache

Countless millions of people around the world suffer from migraines on a daily basis, and it often seems that there is nothing to be done but bear the pain. Migraines are of course characterized by headaches, but it comes with a host of other symptoms as well, as you will see in this comparison article.

Migraine
Headache

Definition

Migraine is a condition characterized by a throbbing pain that may originate from only one side of the head that becomes progressively worse when the person moves. It can be a debilitating condition and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Some migraine sufferers may also become extremely sensitive to light and sound. A migraine episode can last a few hours or up to several days.

A headache is simply a pain in the head that may be accompanied by pain in other nearby parts of the body. It may be an isolated incident with no discernible cause, or it may be a symptom of a migraine. Headaches may also be caused by a number of health conditions, some of which aren't necessarily related to the head. Headaches become a problem when they occur as many as two to three times a week, or if it causes impaired function more than three days a month.

Characteristics

As much as 15% of migraine sufferers although experience what are called “auras”, just before the pain starts. These neurological disturbances may also be accompanied by impaired or blurry vision, a ringing in the ears, difficulty speaking, numbness, tingling, and a sense of disorientation. Nausea or vomiting is also one of the condition’s more common symptoms.

A headache often develops gradually, and may last for several days. The severity of the pain may vary from a dull throb to more intense pain. Headaches are usually general in location, with the scalp, forehead, temples and/or the back of the neck being the most common areas were the pain is centered. Some headaches may also be characterized by a dull pressure in the head, almost as if the head is caught in a vice. Unlike migraine sufferers, people suffering from simple headaches rarely experience nausea or vomiting.

Treatment

Headaches that result from tension may be relieved with something as simple as heat application to the source of pain. Some other remedies that may help are massages, rest, avoidance and/or management of stress, and topical or oral analgesics. Migraines have no known cure since their cause is largely indeterminate, although some relief may be obtained with the use of certain over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some other common migraine remedies are applications of cold compresses on the affected area, and rest in darkened room. While these may not "cure" migraines per se, they may reduce the severity of the attack considerably.

Similarities and Differences

Migraine

  • A condition characterized by a throbbing pain
  • May become progressively worse when the person moves
  • May be accompanied by impaired or blurry vision

Headache

  • A pain in the head that may be accompanied by pain in nearby parts of the body
  • Become a problem when they occur as many as two to three times a week

Which is more painful?
  • Migraine
  • Headache
 
 

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