Migraines vs. Tension Headaches


Dealing with pain or pressure in your head or face? You may be suffering from a headache. When experiencing head pain, tuning into the location and intensity of the pain can help you distinguish what type of headache it is. Knowing whether you have a tension headache or migraine headache will help you choose an appropriate treatment plan for relief.

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

A tension headache typically feels like a steady ache or discomfort in the head. The pain may be distracting, but not debilitating. On the other hand, a migraine is a severe, throbbing headache. If you have severe head pain and feel light-headed, nauseous, sensitive to light, or experience other visual disturbances, you may be suffering from a migraine.

migraines vs headaches

To test your knowledge, take the migraine quiz and headache quiz.

Who is prone to migraines?

Migraines affect 1 billion people worldwide and disproportionately affect women. Nearly 85 percent of all chronic migraine sufferers are female. Migraine headaches are most common for people between the ages of 25 and 55. If your family has a history of migraines, you may have a genetic predisposition to migraines.

When should I see a doctor?

Certain headaches require immediate emergency attention. Call 9-1-1 or visit an emergency room right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Stiff neck

  • Fever

  • Convulsions

  • Confusion

  • Shortness of breath

  • Muscular weakness

  • Double vision

These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious condition, like meningitis, stroke, temporal arteritis, or a ruptured aneurysm. 

If your headache patterns change or feel different, it might be time to visit a doctor. Make an appointment with Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group to see a neurologist or primary care physician.

Sources:

Headache

Migraine Headaches

Migraine Facts

Migraine: It’s Time to Call Your Healthcare Provider

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