Migraines vs Headaches

Author: GOeBlogger

March 24, 2021

We've all experienced a headache a time or two, but do you know the difference between a headache and a migraine? Knowing the difference can help you find the correct relief.

There are a few types of common headaches:

  • Tension headaches: The headache pain is on both sides of the head, starting at the back and moves forward. This is the most common form of headaches. Eye strain and stress are the main causes of tension headaches.
  • Sinus headaches: Occurs most often when you are sick or feeling congested. It's caused by swelling in the sinus passages which result in pain behind the cheeks, nose, and eyes.
  • Cluster headaches: These headaches come in clusters, meaning that they occur daily, sometimes several times a day for weeks or months. They can be caused by physical exertion, bright lights, or change in altitude.

You can help treat a headache by drinking lots of water, eating regularly, relax using breathing techniques, or taking medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Most people think migraines are just a more severe headache, but headaches are actually one of many migraine symptoms which can range in severity and length. It is a chronic neurological disease that affects the nervous system and brain chemicals. The changes in brain activity affect blood in the brain and surrounding tissues, causing a number of symptoms. Experts don't fully understand what causes migraines, but they may be due to abnormal brain activity that triggers a release of hormones like estrogen and serotonin in your body.

  • Migraine with aura: The "aura" refers to sensations that occur just before the onset of a migraine. These sensations can include:
    • Seeing flashes of light or zigzag lines
    • Feeling of numbness in the hands and face
    • Unusual sense of smell, taste, or touch
    • Feeling less mentally alert, or having trouble thinking
  • Migraine without aura: In addition to severe head pain, migraine sufferers may also experience nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells, dizziness, or extreme fatigue.

For help with migraines, try turning off the lights and lying down in a quiet area (migraines make you more prone to light and noise sensitivity), take ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or use a cold compress on your neck.

If you are struggling with headaches and migraine pain, consider booking an appointment with one of our GOeVisit practitioners!




GOeBlogger is a health enthusiast and avid reader living and thriving in vibrant Vancouver. When she's not nerding out at her laptop, you can find her exploring the beautiful BC coastline with her dog.