What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?

What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?

We hear a lot about headaches and migraines but what is the difference between the two?

Generally speaking, a headache is a stand-alone pain in your head. A headache is not usually accompanied by any visual disturbances, vomiting and neurological symptoms and often affects both parts of the head equally.

Headache pain can feel like a tight squeezing, or a sense of pressure in a band around the head. It may be accompanied by pain or pressure behind the eyes.

Headaches usually come on slowly and may not interrupt your day to day activities too much.

Most headaches can be managed by taking over the counter pain killers and resting. Having a light snack and a glass of water may also help.

What is the difference between a headache and a migraine? Image of woman holding head with headache


A migraine is often a more painful, one-sided headache which may or may not be accompanied by an aura, visual disturbances, neurological symptoms and/or nausea and vomiting.

Visual disturbances can include flashing lights, zig-zagging, double vision, blind spots and blurring. 

Neurological symptoms can include tingling in the limbs, pins and needles, facial numbness, loss of sensation or numbness in the arms and legs, confusion, dizziness and loss of speech.

Many migraine patients find that they cannot continue their day to day activities and have no choice but to lay down in a darkened room with some painkillers and an ice pack until it passes.

Migraine patients often notice that they feel irritable, hungry or thirsty in the run up to a migraine. It is almost like the migraine has to gather strength in order for it to happen. 

Interestingly, some people don’t actually get a headache with migraine, this is known as silent migraine, they just get some of the other symptoms. Children often experience stomach migraine where they vomit rather than have a headache.

After a migraine, there is often what feels like a migraine hangover. This is what’s know as postdrome. Resting and keeping yourself sufficiently hydrated and have small, regular meals.

Related Articles: What causes headaches?

Chronic Migraine Survival Kit
Migraine Triggers


Sarah Cooper
Sarah Cooper

I am a Reflexologist, Reiki Master Practitioner and Writer from Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire. I love writing about Health and Wellbeing, Mind Body Spirit and Reflexology. When I’m not at work, you can find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

If you’d like to book a treatment please go to https://www.sarahcooper.co.uk/book


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