Headache vs. Migraine | Exploring the Dissimilarity

headache vs. migraine

The signs are often misunderstood between headache vs. migraine. Cluster headaches often present with such mixed signs that a person is always contemplating if the condition I am in “is a migraine or simply a headache?”

Why do we need to identify the predicament we are in? 

Well, we pay heed to understanding the difference between headache vs. migraine because it helps us figure out a way to stop the pain. 

Migraine and headache require a different regimen of treatment, routine, and precautions. So identifying headache vs. migraine is the first step towards relief. 

Let’s Analyze Headache Vs. Migraine  

Headache vs. Migraine

Some terms we will constantly use in explaining headache vs. migraine

  • Migraineurs – the fellow sufferer of migraines
  • Episode – the sweet time migraine takes to inhibit our life
  • Triggers – involuntary effects that are part of normal life but become a bane   
  • Prodome – the alerts we didn’t subscribe for, announcing the arrival of more intense triggers to come
  • Postdrome – the sad hangover when the migraine has consumed the life out of you, and it is time to say adios
  • Aura – the sensory disturbance, vision disruption, heightened senses of annoyance – in short, life is doomed
  • Attack – Gold stars for the person who gave the right name to the phase. It truly is an attack!    


Now, these are the common visitors. Migraineurs be like, “You are most welcome as long as we lose migraine in trade.” 

They are mostly triggered due to tension, stress, dehydration, or sinus congestion. Not many people know, but dehydration is a major cause of headaches. 

You can always sense one coming as a dull and aching pain that consumes both sides of the head. The intensity could be different each time. 

Often, people describe the headaches as a tight band that pulls around the head and presents with no symptoms. 


The constant friend, the confidant, the loyal one – migraine present with a throbbing and debilitating headache.

The pain throbs on one side of the head, along with some pronounced symptoms such as sensitivity to noise and light and elevated sense of odors. During the episode, individuals feel auras disrupting their vision, nausea, and often vomiting.

Digging Deeper With the Waves of Pain – Headache vs. Migraine

Headache vs. Migraine

Causes of Headaches

Most of the time, headaches are caused by muscle tension, lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and certain foods. Environmental factors are also a key player in sudden headaches.

When you visit a healthcare professional, they will look into your health first. It is the right thing to do as, most of the time, headaches are the result of some health deficiencies. When a patient has sinuses, it is easy to pin the condition as the cause of the headache.      


The headaches usually have constant mild to moderate symptoms, while cluster headaches are intense with longer periods of remission.

Headache vs. Migraine

Causes of Migraines

Now, this is the part where things get complex for us without consent. Yes, that is how we all with migraineurs feel. We never wanted to be in this predicament; we never signed up for this. 

The condition is neurovascular in nature. It involves the changes in brain chemistry and blood flow. At the same time, there are genetic factors that could also be the reason. It is commonly seen that migraines run in the family.  

The triggers could also be certain foods (cheese, processed meats, and by-products of milk), hormonal changes, alcohol, bright lights, caffeine, and strong odors.   


Migraines are rather complex and present some mood swings and food cravings – we call it a prodome phase. Some individuals experience aura, visual disturbance, and neurological symptoms. 

Then comes the migraine with all its might, and the pain begins. It is a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. By the time one reaches the postdrome phase, one feels extremely irritated, done with all mundane things of life, and drained. 

People who experience aura and visual disturbance are advised not to drive during the episodes. Because sometimes, they cannot guess how fast the intensity of visual disturbance will consume the vision. It is best to be off wheels for the safety of your life and others! 

Relief | Or Is There Such Thing 

Headache vs. Migraine

For headaches, you can use over-the-counter pain medications.

Often, stress management, massage, and deep breathing exercises are great help. All in all, if you manage the triggers, it is gold. 

With some care and change in lifestyle, you can most likely reduce the frequency of triggers and episodes. Largely, a good diet, adequate hydration, and some form of physical activity would be marvelous to reduce the occurrence.   

However, for migraines, there are several approaches that you can deploy depending on the uniqueness of your situation. 

There are new devices and drugs that are swarming the market after the FDA’s approval. They are relatively new and may help in your situation. If possible, it is best to manage the triggers, but then some triggers are absolutely impossible to omit from your routine. 

Mostly, if you are hydrating well, eating healthy, and incorporating some form of physical activity (yoga does wonders), you can keep these episodes at bay. Sleep is crucial; if you are an insomniac or a light sleeper, try to fix the situation so you can manage to get a good night’s sleep. 


Why did we do this whole elaborate headache vs. migraine comparison?

Often, people find it hard to understand if the headache is a cluster or a migraine. The symptoms present with less intensity, presenting as cluster headaches, but in essence, it is a migraine (the crouching tiger ready to pounce).

We have also noticed that a drop in blood pressure or blood sugar is mostly followed by the familiar pain on one side of the head.

Once we identify the difference between headache vs. migraine, we can proceed with the treatment uniquely suited for the condition.  

But remember, if you feel something is off, the occurrence and duration between two episodes are shrinking, it is best to seek medical help. 

We can try all remedies at home to see what works. However, a healthcare professional can identify the root cause with some tests and assessments and create a tailored plan for relief.

In the end, we can only send you virtual hugs and hope you get the best treatment and be migraine-free. Because only migraineurs understand what they go through each time and how they have to continue living the routine with the agonizing pain in the head.