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Difference Between Migraine and Headache?

Do you get headaches now and then? Many people find headaches to be bothersome. It interferes with day-to-day activities. It’s difficult to tell whether you’re having a typical headache or a migraine when you’re experiencing throbbing pain in your head. 

However, knowing the difference between the two can assist you in receiving the proper treatment. We spoke with Dr. Gurneet Sawhney, a renowned Mumbai neurosurgeon, regarding all the topics related to migraines so you become free of any doubt. 

Dr. Gurneet Singh Sawhney is a member of India’s new generation of ultra-modern neurosurgeons. Dr. Sawhney is well-known for his expertise in treating complex and life-threatening brain and spinal cord disorders. Dr. Gurneet Singh Sawhney is a skilled neurosurgeon who provides extensive minimally invasive surgery and neurotrauma procedures.

He chose to specialize in Functional Neurosurgery, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Epilepsy Neurosurgery, and Neuroendoscopy because of his deep interest in neurosciences. Dr. Gurneet Singh Sawhney, who has over 14 years of experience, has risen to become Mumbai’s most renowned neurosurgeon through sheer dedication, hard work, and perseverance.

How do you tell the difference between a regular headache and a migraine?

The following characteristics are of Headaches:

  •  Pain in the head
  •  Pain in the face
  • Pain in the neck 

 A tension-type headache is the most common primary headache disorder, and it feels like a band of intense pressure around the head.

Migraine is a headache disorder defined as a neurological condition characterized by recurrent and debilitating headaches of moderate to severe intensity and neurological symptoms. Food cravings, fatigue or low energy, depression, hyperactivity, irritability, or neck stiffness may occur one to two days before the headache itself, referred to as the ‘prodrome’ stage.

The following are characteristics of migraine headaches:

  •  Severe throbbing pain
  •  Pulsating sensation on one side of the head
  • Accompanied by nausea or vomiting 
  • Extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia)

Patients can be perplexed about the difference between headaches and migraines, mainly when they attribute migraine symptoms to other apparent causes such as:

  • Stress
  • Acidity 
  • Eye problems
  • Menstruation
  • Other issues

 Due to which they delay in diagnosis.

When should you make an appointment with your doctor?

If your headache has the symptoms of a migraine, interferes with your daily activities, or if you have multiple headaches in a month that last several hours or days, you should see a neurologist who can diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment plan.

The importance of early diagnosis and disease management cannot get overstated. It can help prevent the migraine from becoming chronic or becoming more recurrent and severe. It is critical to see a neurologist as soon as such signs and symptoms appear.

Although there is no cure for migraines, a neurologist can help you better manage your symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

What are the causes of migraines?

Experts have yet to identify migraine’s specific cause. However, several factors can trigger the condition. Although migraine triggers differ from person to person, stress, changes in an irregular sleep schedule, caffeine or alcohol consumption, and dehydration are all common migraine triggers. 

Environmental stimuli can also occur, such as:

  • Bright lights 
  • Loud noises 
  • A stuffy environment  
  •  Loud noises.

Hormonal changes in women, such as fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can also trigger migraines.

What are the signs and symptoms of a migraine headache?

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Recurrent headaches 
  • Severe throbbing pain 
  • Pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head
  • Nausea
  • Acidity
  •  Vomiting
  •  Extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia)
  •  Lacrimation
  • Giddiness

Symptoms can also differ depending on the stage and type of migraine (such as migraine with aura, which can lead to visual, sensory, speech, and other disturbances, often before or during the headache).

Describe the symptoms of a migraine

Migraine pain gets frequently described as severe throbbing pain, a pulsating sensation, or a pounding and debilitating sensation. Some people say it feels like a severe dull ache that never goes away. If left untreated, the pain can progress from mild to moderate to severe. It usually affects one side of the head, but this can change.

Migraines can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, but they can also last up to a week. The pain can be so severe that it makes it challenging to go about your daily activities.

What is the migraine treatment?

Migraine management and treatment methods vary, and preventive therapy is one of them. However, there is a focus on preventing the attack, which can help avoid further health problems.  Acute attacks get treated with medications that aim to stop the attack as soon as it begins and alleviate the distressing symptoms. 

It is beneficial in chronic migraine disorder, which can be excruciatingly painful and debilitating, with attacks occurring 15 or more days per month.

Several factors that determine migraine treatment include:

  •  The patient’s presenting symptoms 
  • The frequency
  •  The severity of the attack 
  • The presence of risk factors or comorbidities 
  • The patient’s preference for treatment and drug administration route
  •  Whether the patient is taking any other prescribed medications

Overall, one’s treatment plan may include a combination of lifestyle and behavioral changes, as well as a preventative or abortive prescription migraine medication, or even a drug prescribed for specific symptoms such as nausea.

Are there any home remedies?

Understanding migraine triggers can help you make lifestyle and behavioral changes that will help you avoid getting a migraine. 

Staying hydrated, ensuring adequate nutrition and avoiding skipping meals, bringing quality and consistent sleep, and regularly exercising, albeit with a gradual warmup, are all general steps that can help with prevention. You can avoid migraines by avoiding triggers like smoking and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. Other at-home migraine relief options include:

  • Lying down in a dark, quiet environment
  • Massage the temples and the top of the head
  • Applying a cold compress or cloth to the forehead or behind the neck can help relieve headaches.

What foods are known to cause migraines?

Chocolate, cheese, and dairy products, foods with a strong odor, food additives such as nitrates (a preservative found in cured meats) and aspartame (an artificial sugar), and monosodium glutamate are all migraine triggers (MSG). 

Tyramine, commonly present in fermented or aged foods like aged cheeses and soy sauce, may also cause a reaction. In addition, migraines get triggered by alcohol and caffeine.

What are the various kinds of migraines?

There are several types of migraines. Differentiating between two of the most common types of migraine – migraine with aura and migraine without aura – is one of the categorizations.

The most common type of migraine is migraine without aura. Migraine with aura, which affects about a quarter of all migraine sufferers, is defined as an entirely reversible ‘aura’ that includes at least one of the following symptoms throughout at least two attacks:

  • Visual disturbances (the most common aura symptom).
  • Sensory problems (such as numbness, tingling, or dizziness in the body, face, or tongue).
  • Speech or language problems.
  • Eye problems (flashes of light, blind spots, and other symptoms like vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and more.

Typically, no aura symptom lasts longer than an hour, and it co-occurs with or an hour before the onset of the headache.


Migraine headaches can be excruciating, debilitating, and inconvenient. There are many treatment options available, so take your time to find the one or combination of treatments that is right for you. To identify migraine triggers, keep track of your headaches and symptoms. Preventing migraines is frequently the first step in managing them.

Find here – Migraine and Headache

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