Women with a headache on a laptop

What’s the difference between a migraine and a headache?

06 Jun 2023


If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, then it’s bound to be an experience that you’ll never forget as they can be extremely painful. Being able to distinguish between a common headache and a migraine is very important as they require treating in different ways.

What’s a migraine?

In basic terms, a migraine is a severe headache that usually affects one side of your head. Symptoms can include having pain behind an eye, ear and/or your temple, feeling or being sick, sensitivity to sounds and/or light, vision problems and seeing flashing lights. You’ll probably find trying to go about your daily life when suffering from a migraine is almost impossible as the throbbing pain can be unbearable.

Being stressed, not getting enough sleep, your hormones and your diet can all have a part to play in bringing on a migraine. Many people find lying in a darkened room helps during a migraine episode. They typically last from 4 hours to 72 hours but luckily your doctor should be able to prescribe medication that will help make them easier to deal with and stop them occurring as frequently.

What’s a headache?

The pain you experience from a common headache is nowhere near as bad as it is with a migraine. Instead of the pain being on one side of your head, it’ll be focused on your forehead. It could be caused by stress, an illness or injury, and the amount of time it takes to go can vary considerably.

Treating a headache is often much easier than treating a migraine as you can take aspirin or ibuprofen to help ease the discomfort. If you’re suffering from headaches regularly you should make a note of when they happen and arrange to see your doctor.

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